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Microsoft is taking every measure it can to help erode Google's share of the Internet ad market.
You can call Google creepy and invasive if you want. But then you might have to call Microsoft a few choice names as well.
"Scroogled" is the new watchword from Microsoft, which has hired a veteran political strategist to help convince users that Google -- which allows ads to be tailored to keywords in users' Gmail accounts -- is not to be trusted, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
Of course, Microsoft -- which is watching Google rule the Internet search market with nearly 67 percent of searches to Microsoft's 16.5 percent -- would like to position itself as the trusted alternative.
The company hired strategist Mark Penn, who is a legendary pollster who worked for both Bill and Hillary Clinton, in order to publicly attack a market rival.
It's considered a rare move in Silicon Valley, according to experts.
Nonetheless, it's one which Microsoft is employing full-bore, with a television and Web ad campaign to warn users of the "dangers" of being "Scroogled" by the Mountain View company.
The issue is if Gmail users' privacy is compromised when the software that provides ads to e-mail users uses keywords in the e-mail account to build the ad, the newspaper reported. Some industry experts rightly point out to the paper that this practice has been done for years and is widely accepted.
And, of course, motives are question.
"If Microsoft was as successful as Google in the search business," said analyst Jeff Chester with the Center for Digital Democracy, "you would not hear a peep out of them on privacy."