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Microsoft to Spy on Indians, Bank Accounts, Health Records (and Conduct Profiling of Customers)

“Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.”

--Bruce Schneier



Summary: Microsoft is gaining access to systems it must not be allowed into due to misuse of power and a criminal background

Microsoft loves to accuse Google of privacy issues and other perceived issues (Bill Gates is apparently doing a special media tour about it) while praying that people will not realise that Microsoft is far, far worse. Microsoft even tracks people on their own desktops and it gets worse and worse in every new version of Windows (soon to be in Ubuntu too, unless they walk away from that tactless Yahoo! deal which has new GNU/Linux installations 'phone home' to Microsoft). We explained the dangers of this last month.



Last year we shed light on how Microsoft was trying to take control of Indian people through corruptible bodies such as NASSCOM [1, 2, 3, 4]. Will they let a convicted monopolist from abroad manage the population? Well, they just have.

India to roll out Microsoft ID system in August



The Indian government is set to roll out the first phase of its ambitious ID scheme as early as this year, it has emerged. And it will be helped by Microsoft.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) project will see more involvement from private IT giants. Ex-Infosys boss, Nandan Nilekani, is heading this huge project of providing unique identification to more than a billion people. Microsoft Research will take an active part in executing the project.


Ah! Infosys again. Microsoft's biggest shill in India [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15].

This is a disastrous decision that comes amid other current attempts by Microsoft to derail India's policy in order to illegalise/marginalise Free software [1, 2, 3]. The many aggressive moves from Microsoft in India (especially recently) indicate that India has a bright future, but Microsoft is trying to control this future and thus make it grimmer. Microsoft is just trying to possess the nation's ICT for lock-in -- not technical merit -- that secures some future revenue. Red Hat should vigourously protest against this decision and explain to the government how lock-in works (Red Hat is probably in the best position to do so). It sometimes pays off to dump or to even bribe to acquire lock-in and that might be Microsoft's strategy here. Microsoft has 'pulled an EDGI' several times in India.

Microsoft also wants to control people's medical profiles, which are very private and sensitive. Microsoft is now creating events that resemble AstroTurf (as opposes to grassroots) to advance this agenda. From a new press release:

Steve Aylward, GM of Microsoft Health and Life Sciences, Announced as ShareFEST Keynote Speaker



ShareFEST announced today that Steve Aylward, general manager, U.S. Health & Life Sciences, Microsoft Corporation will be the keynote speaker at ShareFEST 2010, the conference focused exclusively on the use of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server in the life sciences industry.


Steve Ballmer is already going on a tour to promote this agenda as well. From the news:

Nashville health leaders to meet with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer this week



[...]

Ballmer's trip — part of a multi-city tour — comes as Microsoft tries to focus more on crafting tech solutions for specific industries such as health care, financial services and retail, said Katherine R. Egbert, a Jefferies & Co. stock analyst in San Francisco.


Yes, it says "financial services and retail". The investment vehicle called "Gates Foundation" is also investing in massive chains of retailers (JJB is just one example). It's all about profit and control.

“More control means more leverage.”The British health services at the NHS are already a victim of Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], but patient data from the NHS is not stored on Microsoft's own servers. Microsoft would love to change that. More control means more leverage.

We previously wrote about bankers and Microsoft's relationship with them (examples from recent months can be found in [1, 2, 3, 4]). We also wrote about Microsoft and Citigroup, later to mention them again in a separate context. Microsoft is still collaborating with big banks (including those responsible for robbing the US and global economy) and a new bundle is coming from Citigroup and Microsoft. But what's more curious is this new dangerous step where Microsoft is trying to store records of people's bank accounts too (and having access to people's bank details). It's getting together with its competition.

Sometime-rivals Intuit and Microsoft are now partners in an effort to encourage software developers to use technology from the two companies to create Web-based applications for small businesses that run QuickBooks.


Web-based QuickBooks would means that financial data is stored on the server. Hello, Microsoft? We already know that Microsoft engages in McCarthyism.

The scariest part through is not mere access that Microsoft is gaining to all sorts of personal details; Microsoft and Intel are now joining forces and profiling users. This is a privacy hazard:

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) have created technology that will allow signs in stores to detect a customer’s gender and which products a shopper looks at.


It gets worse. They are learning people's habits and together with ID information, bank accounts, and even health records, what can't Microsoft do? This abuse of power is done with the company that helped Microsoft fight against OLPC (because it used GNU/Linux and AMD chips).

"Gates looks at everything as something that should be his. He acts in any way he can to make it his. It can be an idea, market share, or a contract. There is not an ounce of conscientiousness or compassion in him. The notion of fairness means nothing to him. The only thing he understands is leverage."

--Philippe Kahn, Founder and former CEO of Borland

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