The man who snitched on Microsoft and became a millionaire
According to many reports such as this recent one (or this and this older one, with a photo of the man here), Microsoft’s Charles Pancerzewski retired and became a collector some time after Microsoft had paid him millions of dollars not to sue Microsoft over systematic fraud, for which there was enough evidence according to the judge. Charlie later testified before the SEC and was he employed by in least one other industry before retiring.
This post, however, is now about Charlie, who is also listed here. His personal life is quite irrelevant compared to the Pandora’s box which he opened. It has potentially huge implications.
We have taken a good look around and studied events which span about 6 years (1996-2002). Here are some of the articles that we found. You can read further and explore more deeply, but we only highlight snippets. We also show that Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer are allegedly involved in a direct way.
The First Settlement
The following old article explains how Microsoft escapes tax. It’s an issue which was explored here several times before, e.g. in [1, 2]. Pay special attention to this:
We know that the SEC became interested after Microsoft settled with a whistleblower former employee, who funnily enough then shut up, and because Microsoft admitted that the SEC has started a “non-public investigation into the company’s accounting reserve practices”. This investigation was spurred following disclosures related to a wrongful dismissal claim brought by Microsoft’s former (internal) general auditor, Charles Pancerzewski, who had been offered a “resign or be fired” choice in 1996 after he claimed accounting practice irregularities. Pancerzewski complained that Microsoft used its reserves to pad its earnings in lean quarters, with the result that Microsoft misreported its earnings.
Microsoft’s “unearned revenue from prior periods” in its cash flow statement shows that Microsoft recognised $5.6 billion in fiscal 2000, up from $4.526 billion in fiscal 1999 and $1.798 billion in fiscal 1998. Pancerzewski filed suit under the Whistleblowers Protection Act, resulting in Microsoft’s records being subpoenaed. The judge decided there was enough evidence to go to trial on the whistleblower charges, but Microsoft quietly settled out of court, with Pancerzewski apparently accepting $4 million in compensation, a gagging agreement, and the sealing of the court record.
It is interesting to recall that pundit Robert Cringely noted a conversation he had with former Microsoft CFO Frank Gaudette. When asked what signs there would be as to when Microsoft stock should be sold, Gaudette said: “Watch for any changes in our accounting. If I need, I can start depreciating the software and maintain earnings growth for years on flat revenue.” Although Microsoft hasn’t yet reached the point of doing this, it is highly significant that a major change in the accounting system was introduced recently, especially as lacklustre results are expected for the current Q1.
Steve Ballmer is claimed to have been personally involved, but evidence may not be sufficient.
A lengthy anecdote about accounting irregularities exposed by whistleblower Charles Pancerzewski concludes weakly, “Microsoft paid over $4 million to make Pancerzewski go away, an amount that presumably wouldn’t be paid out without the Office of the President, the trio to which Ballmer belonged, signing off on it.”
Sadly, part of the settlement involved sealing (maybe destruction) of evidence. We saw this in the past, just before SCO attacked. What was Microsoft so afraid of if it claims to be innocent?
One strategy that Microsoft has employed in the past is paying for the silence of people and companies. Charles Pancerzewski, formerly Microsoft’s chief auditor, became aware of Microsoft’s practice of carrying earnings from one accounting period into another, known as “managing earnings”. This practice smoothes reported revenue streams, increases share value, and misleads employees and shareholders. In addition to being unethical, it’s also illegal under U.S. Securities Law and violates Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (Fink). Mr. Pancerzewski claims he was forced to retire, for raising the issue of deferred earnings with Microsoft executives, thereby making plausible deniability more difficult for said executives. He has since sued Microsoft, who responded by settling out of court, but also sealing the records to prevent public disclosure (Fink).
Here are some more details.
In his lawsuit, Pancerzewski cited Microsoft’s use of deferred revenue as a potential means of creating such a reserve, and brought in William Simpson, a former SEC accountant in its Los Angeles office and now a consultant, to testify that Microsoft did indeed manage its earnings through such means, according to court documents. Microsoft convinced the court to seal Simpson’s testimony from public view, and both he and Pancerzewski declined to be interviewed for this article.
Remember that Microsoft is claimed to have lost $18 billion in 1998. There is a lot that the company refuses to tell the public.
More unique information can be here:
When a Microsoft auditor alerted chief operating officer Bob Herbold and then-chief financial officer Mike Brown to the practice, he was urged to destroy copies of his report and ultimately was fired, court papers on file in Seattle federal court alleged.
But a surviving transcript of a June 1998 hearing quotes Pancerzewski’s attorney as saying that Microsoft “systematically and deliberately excluded hundreds of millions of dollars from their publicly reported financial statements in order to smooth income and conceal volatility.” The practice violated the Securities Exchange Act, the Federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and European tax laws, argued Pete Vial, Pancerzewski’s lawyer.
Vial went on to allege that Brown, then Microsoft’s CFO, wrote in an email to chief executive Bill Gates that “we should do all we can to smooth our earnings and keep a steady state earnings model.” After Pancerzewski reported the alleged reserves to Herbold and Brown, “what they did was isolate him, demote, him,” Vial argued.
It therefore seems as though 'charitable' Chairman Gates endorsed these practices.
Nicholas Petreley once alluded to this incident too.
My suspicions regarding Microsoft stock are partly due to year-2000 issues and problems delivering Windows 2000. But I’m also concerned about the recent allegations of securities fraud in a wrongful termination suit by former Microsoft Chief of Internal Audits Charles Pancerzewski. Pancerzewski claims to have discovered that Microsoft violated Securities and Exchange Commission regulations in order to show steady net revenue growth every quarter.
He claimed to have been forced to resign in 1995 after reporting his suspicions about Microsoft bookkeeping to CFO Mike Brown and COO Bob Herbold.
But court records of the case show Pancerzewski had claimed he’d been ordered to destroy a consultant’s report about potential tax liabilities in Europe, and that he’d found that Microsoft was controlling the level of reported income by switching money back and forth from reserves. Much simplified, this procedure involves putting money into reserves in good times, and transferring it back into reported income when times are hard. It’s used to keep earnings apparently growing smoothly, and it is illegal, under SEC rules.
Destroying reports, switching money back and forth, escaping tax…. is this the ‘honuorable’ company we are asked to respect [1, 2, 3]?
The SEC’s Response (Second Settlement)
There are actually a lot more articles about those later events (unlike the former), which mostly revolve around the toothless SEC.
Here is one report.
Microsoft’s earnings may become less predictable if the world’s largest software maker is forced to change accounting practices because of a review by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, analysts said.
The Wall Street Journal article, dated Jan. 14, 1999, concerned a wrongful-discharge lawsuit filed by Charles Pancerzewski, a former Microsoft internal auditor. Pancerzewski charged the company with manipulating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue reserves to make its profits appear more stable.
Also from CNN:
The paper cites an e-mail, disclosed during Pancerzewski’s suit, that former Microsoft Chief Financial Officer Michael Brown sent to company Chairman Bill Gates in which he said, “I believe we should do all we can to smooth our earnings and keep a steady state earnings model.”
Information control is showing.
“It is really inappropriate for us to comment further,” he added, noting that the review would have “no material impact on our business or financial condition.”
Maffei said he learned of the SEC investigation “several months ago.” The company chose to disclose the existence of the investigation now due to the fact that it had heard of rumors circulating about such a probe and wanted to be sure the information was disseminated to the financial community and investors in an accurate fashion, according to a Microsoft spokeswoman.
Let’s fly a couple of years into the future.
Interestingly, Microsoft claims not to have broken the rules. If so, what’s the meaning of the article “Microsoft Agrees To Refrain From Accounting Violations in SEC Settlement”? This headline suggests that Microsoft acknowledges violation. If any of its past promises are something to rely on, it’s likely that nothing has changed since.
Microsoft has agreed to refrain from accounting violations to settle federal regulators’ allegations that it misrepresented its financial performance, the government announced Monday.
Under a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the software giant neither admitted to nor denied wrongdoing. No fine was imposed.
The SEC alleged that Microsoft’s accounting practices from July 1994 through June 1998 caused its income to be substantially misstated.
This article also available from here (Associated Press, thus distributed widely). The statements above say it all. Microsoft did not deny fraud and it escaped without harm.
Given that Microsoft now employs a young man from the paper industry as its CFO (more here), the last sentence below rings a bell of sounds an alarm.
The lawsuit, filed last year by Mukilteo City Councilman Charles Pancerzewski, alleges that he was forced to resign as Microsoft’s general auditor in January 1996 after working for the company’s internal auditing department for more than four years. The suit claims that a “significantly younger man” with little auditing experience was picked to replace Pancerzewski, who was finally forced out because he discovered Microsoft might have been violating government regulations. Once Pancerzewski left the company he was replaced by the younger man, who his attorneys believe was “less prone to raise issues of possible legal improprieties which could threaten or embarrass Microsoft or its management.
From the Microsoft-influenced New York Times:
Industry experts said the S.E.C. investigation could be part of its effort to restrain ”cookie jar” accounting, which can smooth over differences between strong and weak quarters.
The S.E.C. and its chairman, Arthur Levitt, have begun cracking down on what they consider earnings manipulation by companies. The issue ”certainly has Mr. Levitt’s attention,” said Peter H. Knutson, an associate professor emeritus of accounting at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Microsoft has set aside about $4 billion in what it calls ”unearned revenues” as a result of the way it sells both its Windows operating system products and its Office suite of software applications. The company often sets revenue aside to account for upgrades and components that may be delivered later during the product life. It also sells some products on a license or subscription basis, and sets revenue aside there as well.
But Microsoft also sets aside non-public reserves for bad debts, returned products and other related business contingencies, and it is possible that the S.E.C. investigation is related to those practices.
The company has still not made enough information public to provide analysts with detailed information on the profitability of its MSN Internet business, Mr. Galvin said, adding, ”There’s still room for them to obfuscate.”
Watch this one, which alleges the CFO was personally involved
“I can confirm that the SEC has contacted Charlie Pancerzewski and that Charlie has cooperated with the SEC,” McNaul said.
That cooperation has included being interviewed by investigators and handing over a substantial volume of records about Microsoft’s practices, McNaul said.
“The CFO to whom Charlie was reporting his concerns about illegality was the biggest advocate for the very illegality that was going on,” Vial argued in court a year ago.
So, at the end, another unknown settlement was reached and Microsoft was not punished. Could Microsoft’s relationship with the SEC be similar to that which it enjoys with the Department of 'Justice'? █
Update: Rex Ballard has added some valuable information and it’s quoted below verbatim.
From: Rex Ballard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Ballmer Maybe Peronally Involved in Microsoft’s Fraud, Evidence Destroyed
Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2008 14:41:45 -0700 (PDT)
On Aug 31, 8:15 am, Roy Schestowitz <newsgro…@schestowitz.com>
> Sadly, part of the settlement was destruction of evidence. What was Microsoft
> so afraid of if it claims to be innocent? it later settled with the SEC, too.
This is by no means a NEW settlement tactic for Microsoft. Most
settlements involve a number of agreements including
1- court seal of all evidence presented – so that it can’t be used
against them in other civil or criminal cases.
2- immunity from future prosecution, including a declaration that no
guilt is admitted
and that any wrongs ruled by the judge to be violations of law be
dropped, in effect
declaring microsoft and it’s people to be innocent of any
3. Agreement not to disclose any information related to the case.
Even in the event
of a federal court subpoena, if the plaintiff talks, they lose
4 Agreement to destroy all exhibits as soon as applicable statutes
5 Purge of all public records, wherever possible, for example
removal from web sites.
6 On-line publications can be asked to purge the records (but are
not required to do so)
7 Court seals that prevent republication of the exhibits by the
court or the plaintiffs.
One of the clever strategies of Combs versus Microsoft was that all
exhibits, and transcripts of key witnesses and judicial decisions were
published while they were still in public domain. This allowed
interested parties to capture and circulate all of the evidence BEFORE
court seals “Locked up” the official transcripts and exhibits.
We have seen similar terms in cases where public disclosure of the
settlement is required by state or federal law.
> Whistleblower settles after Microsoft SEC fraud claim
> ,—-[ Quote ]
> | He claimed to have been forced to resign in 1995 after reporting his
> | suspicions about Microsoft bookkeeping to CFO Mike Brown and COO Bob Herbold.
> | [...]
The interesting part of this case is that even though the central
issue of the case was whether or not Microsoft terminated the
plaintiff BECAUSE he was a whistle blower or not, a bunch of secondary
evidence describing what the plaintiff had found, why he thought it
might be illegal, and how he found it, were also presented (even
though those were not critical elements of the case).
During the settlement process, not only were the reasons for
terminations put under seal, but ALL documents related to the the SEC
violations were also presented. In the settlement all of those
records were put under seal, the court gave immunity, and the
settlement allowed both Microsoft and the plaintiff to distroy the
It almost looks to me like the plaintiff was actually working for
Microsoft and EARNED is $4 million by taking a bunch of very
incriminating evidence out of play. Whether the plaintiff KNEW that
was what was happening or not is probably up for speculation, but it
is clear that Microsoft played him perfectly. He pointed out the
obvious, and became the perfect pawn to get the very evidence he
threatened to disclosed taken out of play.
The problem for prosecutors is that none of the evidence in the case
can even be used to establish probable cause, since it would be poison
fruits, which means that Microsoft executives effectively gave
themselves immunity by firing this guy in such a way that he was sure
to fight back. I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft even had some of
their people put the idea of suing Microsoft into his head, and maybe
even gave him the name of a good lawyer who would be sure to put
everything into the court record.
> | But court records of the case show Pancerzewski had claimed he’d been ordered
> | to destroy a consultant’s report about potential tax liabilities in Europe,
> | and that he’d found that Microsoft was controlling the level of reported
> | income by switching money back and forth from reserves. Much simplified, this
> | procedure involves putting money into reserves in good times, and
> | transferring it back into reported income when times are hard. It’s used to
> | keep earnings apparently growing smoothly, and it is illegal, under SEC
Yes, and we’ve seen clear evidence of Microsoft doing that since the
release of Vista. Microsoft has been financing huge quantities of
Vista sales and flooring, then writing it down in subsequent quarters
as bad debt. It lets them keep revenues up while profits go down from
their typical 80% to as low as 30% due to bad receivables.
[snip other fine references]
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In a previous post, I wrote about my personal experiences writing for the press. There is editorial control, there are advertisers, and in one form or another it can be argued that there is censorship. It is difficult if not impossible to cover something that editors disagree with. If it passes, which sometimes it does, it can still be frowned upon and put the role of the publication or writer at risk.
The issues with corporate ownership of the press are ones that were covered here before [1, 2, 3]. We blame this, for example, at the sight of biased reporting that favours and occasionally even glorifies the Microsoft/Novell deal. To an extent, search engines might suffer from the same problem and all of this affects public perception, which in turn influences blogs and even commerce.
In a state such as this, ‘dissident’ journalists are likely to be actively and passively discouraged from writing. Ingrid Marson, who used to write for ZDNet for example, is no longer active. Others like Peter Galli have vanished as well, but that's a controversial one. Maybe the bankruptcy of Ziff Davis is to blame as well.
Either way, says one reader of ours, “she [Marson] wrote really good stuff. Haven’t seen her on ZDNet lately, though I read it less than before. Once the list is filled out, start tracking staffing changes and look for correlations between Microsoft advertising money or other similar influence and departure of the non-shills.”
On several occasions recently, we have complained about ZDNet. This (formerly) ‘news’ site hardly published any articles after the bankruptcy of Ziff Davis. It seems to have also aligned with the Paul Allen-funded CNET. Instead of articles, there are many blog posts there, may of which are outrageous and trollish, by the writers’ very own admission (e.g. Jason Perlow).
So who are these ‘writers’ anyway? They penetrate aggregators like Google News, so they impact public perception.
“There is not even an illusion of balance in reporting at ZDNet”Many of these blog spots are occupied by Microsoft people like Mary Jo Foley, Ed Bott, George Ou, and even former Microsoft employees. Microsoft is reportedly encouraging its employees to also leave comments in ZDNet. The “L’unix” spot is occupied by one who used to back SCO in its actions against Linux (or harass Groklaw) and the “Open Source” blog is occupied by a Windows user, who is usually skeptic and grumpy about FOSS and GNU/Linux. What gives? There is not even an illusion of balance in reporting at ZDNet.
Our reader makes a suggestion. “It would be interesting to track how that occurred and how reporters like Marson were booted,” we were told in yesterday’s correspondence.
Based on personal experience — albeit I chose to stop writing in bigger publications for now — it’s the Microsoft advertisements and resistance to publishing articles that contain evidence of crime that can break the camel’s back. In general, I simply refuse to write for page space, half of which will be overwhelmed by pro-Microsoft or anti-Linux commercials. I used to protest against it, so turning a blind eye to it now would be hypocritical. The editors may also water down Microsoft critique. How come? A moral shield? Relationships with advertisers?
“I suspected as much,” says our reader. “I noticed that the editors seemed to fiddle especially with the titles, frequently putting pro-FOSS/pro-Standards titles on Microsoft puff pieces and negative titles on pro-FOSS/pro-Standards articles. Clever.”
That too has been my experience, but they usually ask for permission to modify headlines though. Imaginary examples would be:
“Linux is growing” becomes “Can Linux grow?”
“Microsoft might fund SCO” becomes “SCO: an issue of trust”
It’s a case of teasing and provocation.
Further says our reader: “For quite a few years I used to write to the authors and comment. Many seemed to act surprised about it so maybe they didn’t always ask permission. I suspect also that each victim has been given the impression that he/she is isolated in their experience and kept down and obedient and quiet in that manner.”
And again, based on personal experience, sometimes there are assignments where the editor suggests provocative titles or fear-inspiring ones. It’s all about attracting a crowd rather than honestly supporting the very same technologies that the target audience loves. This is unethical.
Our reader continues: “But I figure there are some editors who do that more frequently and / or consistently than others who might be considered more true to journalistic professionalism. The former are ones that would be addressed in my question some months back about what to do about people who have chronically misused positions of authority to steer us wrong about computer technology over longer periods.
“The pre-Microsoft partnership version of The Register used to be rather good about making attention-getting titles without pandering to Bill’s anti-American/anti-UK party line.
“Anyway, the mislabeling of articles was enough of a chronic problem that I considered doing a survey but never got access to a proper database when I had time. In my own bibliography, I usually re-wrote the title, leaving the original in an annotation.”
‘Pesky’ writers should not be discouraged from telling the truth in ‘the’ press. As for myself, I left by choice — for now. I want to write quickly and publish my findings without barriers and without Microsoft advertisement ‘decorating’ my objective writing (Shane has mended an error that led to the same issue materialising here at one stage). In Boycott Novell, we now get over 17,000 pageviews per day (and increasing each month, according to Webalizer). It’s not as though we’re small and insignificant.
Is this Web site considered ‘mainstream press’? Of course not. But does that say anything about credibility? Probably not.
Based on my observations, this question should be reversed. If a web site is considered ‘mainstream press’, does it make it less credible? Well, probably yes, especially given the conflict of interests, the need for provocation, and corporate pressure (sometimes even “placements” [1, 2]).
It is time to change common perception surrounding particular blogs. Being smaller does not make them ‘less correct’. Being less conventional than ‘bigger’ publications has its reasons. The bigger publications have sufficient brainwash power to make the small ones look “insane” because they don’t concur. Truth is valued by concrete evidence, not by PR departments. █
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Extortion rackets ain’t positive
Novell’s screw-other-Linuxes-as-a-business-model strategy is treated too lightly by the Linux Foundation, which itself is funded by Novell (at least partially). The complaints about this need not be justified again, but Groklaw seems to have taken a similar stance, referring to this (“Highlights of the Linux Foundation End User Summit will include: An address from Novell CEO Ron Hovsepian, which will include a Q&A with the Linux Foundation’s executive director Jim Zemlin.”) and then adding: “Here’s a question for him. “How could you?” And “When are you going to figure out the role the GPL plays?”
In a way, Novell is already destroying the credibility of the Linux Foundation. It does not necessarily endorse Microsoft’s actions, but it does not publicly denounce them anymore.
Having brought the burden of frauds [1, 2] to the FOSS community, Novell has no shame. The legal issues are worth highlighting again, not to mention the brainwash, which seems to have charmed SJVN.
Curiously, one of the major drivers behind Novell’s Linux business it its controversial partnership with Microsoft. While many open-supporters hate this deal, Novell has reason to love it.
Widened losses are nothing to crow about. As for Novell’s figures, the company settled fraud allegations before, it can cook easily its figures and we shall soon show in details how Microsoft does this too (it’s a very long post).
Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier is meanwhile downplaying the issues on behalf of Novell/OpenSUSE, proving that OpenSUSE is still represented by Novell itself. There is also the issue AstroTurf or paid-for press coverage [1, 2].
Anyway, here is a portion of what was said most recently:
Sean: Let me ask you a question in a different area. Generally speaking, in the open source community, there’s a somewhat mixed reaction to Novell having agreements with Microsoft. Do you feel that any controversy in that area has an effect on uptake of openSUSE?
Joe [Brockmeier]: When I took the job, that was one of the first things that I expected a lot of questions on, and in fact I did at one time, because everyone thinks that it’s the elephant in the room. But when I go to open source conferences and actually talking to users and whatnot, I generally haven’t found it to be as big of an issue as is generally suggested in the press. This is not to say that it’s not an issue at all, but it’s hardly the only issue, and after nearly two years, a lot of people have realized it’s not the catastrophe that some painted it as when it was announced.
I think there are some folks that are very active online trying to complain about this particular issue, and they’re welcome to that viewpoint. I would suggest that maybe if you are deeply committed to open source, perhaps your time would be better spent in doing something positive.
“Zonker” seems to be taking cheap shots at us. He should have done something useful like denouncing the deal rather than taking money from Novell to become an outspoken Microsoft apologist. Well, hopefully, for their own pseudo-benefit (imaginary advantage), “Zonker” and Novell will be enjoying their “intellectual property peace of mind” [1, 2] (or knee caps) — a situation and a phrase that they themselves created when they approached Microsoft for a software patents deal back in the middle of 2006. █
That’s what Novell asked for
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And yet, the McCreevy Monopolist might stand in the way of change
In light of developments in the Czech Republic, we wrote about this subject just a couple of days ago and it was also covered in other publications. Poland recently filed a complaint against Microsoft’s OEM tactics [1, 2], but now comes action not from the regulatory bodies but from Polish GNU/Linux users themselves. This action was a great success and while it’s very laborious to follow, it opens the floodgates to similar demands for a ‘Windows tax’ refund.
From the very beginning I’ve been informing the seller, that I won’t be using Windows, because it is Linux I work on. In return, I was told, that they cannot sell me the laptop without the Windows OS pre-installed.
Finally, it worked! The Trading Inspectors after over-the-phone mediation has convinced “Poltronics” that I’m right. The retailer has issued me a refund for 400 PLN (as I have mentioned in the documents – the actual price of Windows XP Professional at the time of purchasing the laptop.
Summarizing, I give you a few useful tips for these, who decide to return the Microsoft Windows for a refund:
* It is rather not useful to phone the manufacturer, the retailer or Microsoft – would cost you money and nerves – write emails rather.
* You might shoot a photo documentation of declining the license, but that is not required.
* The most important letters to the manufacturer or the retailer are best to be sent with Recorded Delivery, return receipt is recommended too.
* If the licensing sticker is made of paper, it could be damaged very quickly (I recommend to photocopy it and not keep the laptop on your knees in the mean time).
* If you’re asked to return the licensing sticker, do not rip it off yourself (it is protected) – let the retailer do it.
* The Office of Fair Trading and Consumer Protection isn’t going to help much.
* Have patience, more patience and lots of patience
Complaints of this nature have recently arrived also from Taiwan, China, and Hungary. The following portion of text is mind-boggling though:
“Two weeks ago Commissioner Kroes informed us that our issue falls within the responsibility of Commissioner McCreevy, who is responsible for Internal Market and Services.
McCreevy is no friend of the consumer. He is a friend of the American monopolies [1, 2, 3]. Why is he handling this and who assigned this complaint? Could someone have “stacked the deck”, to use Microsoft’s expression of such phenomena? █
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Let someone else absorb the blame
Microsoft’s attacks on competitors do not usually come directly from its own mouth, but there are a few exceptions. Remember SCO and “stolen code”? Or Novell with "intellectual property peace of mind"? Anyway, having already covered examples where Microsoft used the Federal Government, lobbying arms, copyright holders, intellectual monopolies, Yahoo and hired AstroTurfers to slam or to sue Google [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], we turn attention to this item from the news where a hugely hypocritical Microsoft denounces privacy violations at Google. It even does this directly, adding:
“I desperately hope that they…in fact I expect, that they will change. They will become as grown up as some of the larger companies around, so in some respects it’s a predictable thing,” added [Microsoft's] Cullen.
It could not be any further from the realms of comedy coming from Microsoft itself. To daemonise Google, one must not be Microsoft because:
- It violates people’s right for privacy when it sets up back doors in its software for ‘privileged’ access
- It obtains and keeps complete copies of all the Web addresses Internet explorer users ever visit
- It is profiling Web users aggressively
- It eavesdrops on people on their own desktop, not just Internet activities (hardware/software installation, usage statistics, file tracking for forensics, etc.)
This Google face-off is not just a direct one. Microsoft has already hired AstroTurfers (via LawMedia at the very least) in order to fake on-line backlash against Google. This dirty maneuver leaked and more recently was alluded to here, where similar tactics were described. In other words, if you spot people who protest against Google, they could be Microsoft shills on its payroll.
Microsoft is trying very hard to break the relationship between Google and Yahoo. Here is the latest:
Google is apparently going to disregard the investigation into any antitrust practices, and move forward in its advertising deal with Yahoo! in October, unless the government stops them.
Needless to say, excessive accumulation of personal data is harmful, but neither Microsoft nor its many proxies are in a position of higher moral grounds which enables criticism to be met with anything but laughter. Microsoft is a lot worse than Google, privacy-wise.
Speaking of privacy and how sensitive an issue its is, watch this from this news:
Labs Remove Genetic Data from Public Databases After Forensic Breakthrough
Now it has been reported that on Monday, four days before the paper came out, the National Center for Biotechnology Information pulled aggregated data off its Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP). The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and the Wellcome Trust in Britain have also removed aggregate data from public view.
See some of Microsoft's very own Orwellian patents (list at the bottom), whose aim is to perform biological surveillance too. Never ever count on Microsoft for your privacy. 40% of all Windows users are claimed to be already sharing their own PC with strangers. █
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