Last updated: March 7, 2013 - 9:43am
Massachusetts lawmakers could soon consider a bill that would restrict the commercial use of data gathered while children use computers at public schools. Its stated purpose is protecting privacy. An unnamed focus of the bill—backed by Microsoft -- is Google.
The bill, introduced in January, appears to take aim at Google's growing business of providing basic software like email and word processing over the Internet, which, in turn, is a growing threat to Microsoft's cash-cow suite of Office tools. The proposed legislation would prohibit companies that provide schools with "a cloud-computing" service—a digital service accessed via the Web—from using the information gleaned from schoolchildren for advertising or other commercial purposes. Microsoft acknowledges it is behind the Massachusetts legislation and that the bill is aimed at business practices employed by Google. The move opens a new front in a long-running battle between the software rivals in which Microsoft has run advertisements questioning Google's privacy practices and pressed regulators to more closely police Google's activities.