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Microsoft's 'Scroogled' line pokes fun at Google privacy policies

'Keep calm while we steal your data,' reads a new coffee mug from Microsoft. The mug bears the logo of Google's Chrome browser. 

By Matthew Shaer / November 21, 2013

'I'm watching you,' reads the text on this Microsoft 'Scroogled' T-shirt.

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If you happen to subscribe to the whole "Google is Skynet" theory, Microsoft has the perfect piece of clothing for you. 

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Beginning this week, the Redmond, Wash., company is offering up a range of "Scroogled" gear, from shirts to ball-caps, all poking fun at its rival's privacy policies. Among the sharpest items is a white T-shirt, emblazoned with the words "I'm Watching You" and the Google Chrome logo. "Do you use Google Search?" reads the product description. "Or Gmail? Or Google Chat? Or Chrome? Then Google is watching you… all the time." 

Of course, if you'd rather have something you can carry, and not wear, you can also opt for the "keep calm while we steal your data" coffee mug, which lets the world know, according to Microsoft, "that even though Google is trying to make money on almost every aspect of your digital life, you're still calm. And fully caffeinated." List price is $7.99. 

This isn't the first time Google and Microsoft have traded jabs over the subject of privacy. In fact, back in February of last year, Microsoft corporate vice president Dean Hachamovitch publicly accused Google of "circumventing the privacy preferences of Internet Explorer users." And, of course, Microsoft offers several competing products, such as the Bing search engine.

So yes, there's some history here. But the new "Scroogled" campaign has raised the hackles of some analysts, who argue that when it comes to user privacy, there isn't much space between Google and Microsoft. 

"A campaign against Google by Microsoft on privacy raises eyebrows. In terms of security practices, Google is a little more aggressive about encryption," Parker Higgins of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told CNET today. "If you're talking about which ads you see, it's possible that Microsoft has pulled ahead. It's difficult for a company like Microsoft to say that the way they're doing it respects your autonomy more. In fact, it's just a different style."

It remains unclear whether Google will launch a retaliatory clothing and gear line of its own. But hey, there's still time – the holiday shopping season is only now lurching into gear. 

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