When setting up a webmail account, a user wants to keep their private information secure. In addition to one's full name, there is also other information, such as birth date and ZIP code, which a user may want to remain out of the hands of advertisers or sinister minds. Thankfully, Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail provides adequate security and privacy for all its users.
Hotmail is the world's leading webmail service with a published 360 million user accounts as of May 2010. With hundreds of millions of potential users, it is no wonder that MSN sets and enforces strict privacy rules to protect their users.
Information Collected by Hotmail
How Hotmail Uses Private Information
Like any free service, Hotmail intends to earn a profit, even if you do not pay them a fee. In order to use their free email service, they have the right to post and display targeted advertisements on your account pages. Advertising content can be narrowed down and targeted to a specific user's preferences and interests with the private information collected at signup and through cookies.
In addition to providing advertisements and promotions, Hotmail does also use private information for legitimate communications, such as billing statements for paid services and technical service issues.
How Hotmail Shares Private Information
Hotmail does not share account information with any other person or organization without a user's consent. Users can choose to allow Hotmail to share private, or certain private information, with select partners and associates who may use it for marketing purposes. However, any user has the option to "opt-out" by going to the Windows Live Communications Preferences, where they can forego receiving marketing material and unsubscribe to MSN newsletters.
It is good to know that the team at Microsoft does take their free email account user information seriously. With so many accounts, and potentially so much personal information gathered, users could face plenty of unwanted email and marketing. However, with user opt-out choices and a "no sharing" policy, private information remains private.