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Privacy Evaluation for Microsoft Teams

Last updated July 21, 2022

Overview

Microsoft Teams is a hub for team collaboration in Microsoft 365 that integrates the people, content, and tools teams need to be more engaged and effective. Microsoft's terms state that children can access communication services, like Outlook and Skype, and can freely communicate and share data with other users of all ages. When users are signed in, some products may display a user's name or username and their profile photo as part of their use of Microsoft products, including in a user's communications, social interactions, and public posts. Microsoft's terms state they provide a privacy dashboard that allows users to control some of the data Microsoft processes through their use of a Microsoft account on the Microsoft privacy dashboard. From here, the terms state users can view and clear their browsing, search, and location data associated with their Microsoft account.

Microsoft's terms also state they are committed to protecting the security of its users' personal data. Microsoft uses a variety of security technologies and procedures to help protect users' personal data from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. If a user uses a Microsoft product provided by a school or district they are affiliated with or use an email address provided by a school or district to access Microsoft products, Microsoft may share certain data, such as interaction data and diagnostic data, to enable a school or district to manage the products.

Microsoft Teams can be accessed through its website, and is available for download at the iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store. The Privacy Policy and Terms of Use used for this evaluation can be found on Microsoft’s website, iOS App Store, and the Google Play Store. Additionally, other policies used for this evaluation include: Privacy Trust Center, Microsoft Services Agreement, and Privacy, security, and compliance in Microsoft Teams. This evaluation only considers policies that have been made publicly available prior to an individual using the application or service.

Safety

Microsoft's terms state that children can access communication services, like Outlook and Skype, and can freely communicate and share data with other users of all ages. When users are signed in, some products may display a user's name or username and their profile photo as part of their use of Microsoft products, including in a user's communications, social interactions, and public posts. The terms state that when a user creates a personal Microsoft account, they will be asked to provide certain personal data and they will assign a unique ID number to identify a user's account and associated information. While some products, such as those involving payment, require a real name, the terms state users can sign in and use other Microsoft products without providing their real name. Some data a user provides, such as their display name, email address, and phone number, can be used to help others find and connect with that user within Microsoft products.

In addition, the terms state that users should be aware that when they share their content with other people, it may become publicly visible to others. Microsoft's terms state that they also provide parental tools called Family Features, which allow parents and kids to build trust based on a shared understanding of what behaviors, websites, apps, games, physical locations, and spending is right in their family. Parents can create a family account by going to https://account.microsoft.com/family and inviting their kids or other parents to join.

Privacy

Microsoft's terms state they provide a privacy dashboard that allows users to control some of the data Microsoft processes through their use of a Microsoft account on the Microsoft privacy dashboard. From here, the terms state users can view and clear their browsing, search, and location data associated with their Microsoft account. The terms state many of Microsoft’s products require some personal data to provide users with its services. The data Microsoft services can collect include: first and last name, email address, postal address, phone number, password credentials, and data about users such as their age, gender, country, and preferred language.

In addition, the terms state Microsoft also obtains data about users from third parties, such as data brokers from which Microsoft purchases demographic data to supplement the data they collect, and from services that make user-generated content from their service available to others, such as local business reviews or public social media posts. In carrying out these purposes, the terms state that Microsoft combines data they collect from different contexts (for example, from a user's use of two Microsoft products) or they obtain from third parties to give users a more seamless, consistent, and personalized experience, to make informed business decisions, and for other legitimate purposes.

The terms state Microsoft does not sell users' personal data and personal information will only be used or processed to provide users the services including purposes compatible with providing those services. However, Microsoft's privacy policy states they may use personal information for marketing and targeted advertising purposes, but Microsoft says they do not use what a user says in an email, chat, video calls, or voice mail, or their documents, photos, or other personal files to target ads. Lastly, Microsoft says they may track users with the data they collect through interactions on their products and on third-party websites for advertising in their products and across the Internet.

Security

Microsoft's terms state they are committed to protecting the security of its users' personal data. Microsoft uses a variety of security technologies and procedures to help protect users' personal data from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. For example, the terms state Microsoft stores the personal data users provide on computer systems that have limited access and are in controlled facilities and protect the data users entrust to Microsoft through strong security and encryption.

In addition, the terms state Microsoft uses data to protect the safety of their products and their customers. Microsoft's security features and products can disrupt the operation of malicious software and notify users if malicious software is found on their devices. The terms also state Microsoft uses data they collect to develop product updates and security patches. For example, the terms state Microsoft may use information about a user's device’s capabilities, such as available memory, to provide users with a software update or security patch. The terms also state updates and patches are intended to maximize users' experience with Microsoft's products, help users' protect the privacy and security of their data, provide new features, and ensure a user's device is ready to process updates. Lastly, the terms state Microsoft complies with data protection laws, including providing security breach notification to users.

Compliance

The terms state the data Microsoft collects depends on the context of the user's interactions with Microsoft and the choices they make, including their privacy settings and the products and features they use. The terms also say a user can request access to their data, update their data, erase their data, and port their personal data to another service. However, Microsoft's terms say that if a user's organization, such as their employer, school, or service provider, provides them with access to and is administering their use of Microsoft products, they should contact their organization to learn more about how to access and control a personal data. The data associated with a work or a K-12 school account, and how it will be used, is generally similar to the use and collection of data associated with a personal Microsoft account. However, work or school administrators managing accounts may access personal data including the contents of communications and files, including data stored in products provided to a user by their organization.

In addition, the terms state the services are only intended for adults and if children intend to use the services they must have valid parent or legal guardian consent. Parents and kids can use Microsoft family features to build trust based on a shared understanding of what behaviors, websites, apps, games, physical locations, and spending is right in their family. Parents can create a family account by going to https://account.microsoft.com/family.

Data Collection
SCORE: 65%

What data does it collect?

  • Personally identifiable information (PII) is collected.
  • The categories of collected personally identifiable information are indicated.
  • Collection or use of data is limited to product requirements.
  • Geolocation data are collected.
  • Biometric or health data are collected.
  • Interactions, behaviors, or usage analytics data are collected.
  • Sensitive data are collected.
  • Data is automatically collected.
  • Opt-in consent is requested from users at the time personal information is collected.
  • Personal information of users is collected by a third party.
Data Sharing
SCORE: 95%

What data does it share?

  • Collected information is shared with third parties.
  • The categories of information shared with third parties are indicated.
  • The purpose for sharing a user's personal information with third parties is indicated.
  • The categories of third parties that receive data are indicated.
  • Data are shared for analytics.
  • Data are not shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Third-party services are used to support the product.
  • The roles of third-party service providers are indicated.
  • Third-party login is supported.
  • Contractual limits are placed on third-party data use.
Data Security
SCORE: 95%

How does it secure data?

  • A user's identity is verified with additional personal information.
  • Account creation is required.
  • Managed accounts are available.
  • Multi-factor account protection is available.
  • Third-parties with access to information are required to provide the same security protections as the company.
  • Reasonable security practices are used to protect data.
  • Employee or physical access to user information is limited.
  • All data in transit are encrypted.
  • All data are stored in an encrypted format.
  • Notice is provided in the event of a data breach.
Data Rights
SCORE: 95%

What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Users retain ownership of their data.
  • Processes to access or review user data are available.
  • Processes to modify data are available for authorized users.
  • A data-retention policy is available.
  • Processes for authorized users to delete data are available.
  • A user's data are deleted upon account cancellation or termination.
  • Data are deleted when no longer necessary.
  • Methods are available to restrict who has access to data.
  • Processes to download user data are available.
Data Sold
SCORE: 55%

Is the data sold?

  • Personal information is not sold or rented to third parties.
  • Users can opt out from the disclosure or sale of their data to a third party.
  • User information can be transferred to a third party in the event of a merge, acquisition, or bankruptcy.
  • Unclear whether users are notified if their information is transferred to a third party.
  • Unclear whether user information can be deleted prior to its transfer to a third party.
  • Third-party transfer is contractually required to use the same privacy practices.
  • User information that is shared is shared in an anonymous or de-identified format.
  • Unclear whether the company describes their de-identification process of user information.
  • Data are not shared for research and/or product improvement.
  • Unclear whether contractual limits prohibit third parties from reidentifying or de-identified information.
Data Safety
SCORE: 70%

How safe is this product?

  • Users can interact with trusted users.
  • Users can interact with untrusted users, including strangers and/or adults.
  • Profile information must be shared for social interactions.
  • Personal information can be displayed publicly.
  • Users can control how their data are displayed to others.
  • User-created content is not reviewed, screened, or monitored by the company.
  • Unclear whether user-created content is filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.
  • Social interactions between users are moderated.
  • Social interactions of users are logged.
  • Users can report abuse or cyberbullying.
Ads & Tracking
SCORE: 60%

Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Personal information is shared for third-party marketing.
  • Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
  • Personalised advertising is displayed.
  • Data are collected by third-parties for their own purposes.
  • User's information is used to track and target advertisements on other third-party websites or services.
  • Data profiles are created and used for personalised advertisements.
  • The company can send marketing messages.
  • The company does provide promotional sweepstakes, contests, or surveys.
  • Users can opt out of contextual, or personalised advertising.
  • Users can opt out or unsubscribe from marketing communications.
Parental Consent
SCORE: 65%

Can I provide parental consent?

  • Intended for children under 13.
  • Personal information from children under 13 years of age is collected.
  • Unclear whether intended for parents or guardians.
  • Company does have actual knowledge that personal information from users under 13 years of age is collected.
  • The company does provide a section, heading, or separate policy for children in their policies.
  • Parental consent is required before personal information is collected or disclosed.
  • Unclear whether this product limits parental consent with respect to third parties.
  • Parents can withdraw consent for the further collection of their child's information.
  • Unclear whether this product deletes children's personal information if collected without parental consent.
  • Parental consent notice and method for submission are provided.
School Purpose
SCORE: 44%

Is the product intended for school?

  • Unclear whether intended for students.
  • Unclear whether personal information or education records are collected from preK-12 students.
  • Unclear whether intended for teachers.
  • Product is primarily used by, designed for, and marketed toward students in grades preK–12.
  • Processes to enter education records into the product are described.
  • Additional rights or protections may be provided with an additional school contract.
  • Unclear whether the company is designated as a school official.
  • Parental consent obligations are transferred to the school or district.
Individual Control
SCORE: 95%

Can I control the use of my data?

  • Users can control the use of their information through privacy settings.
  • Use of information is limited to the purpose for which it was collected.
  • The context or purpose for which data are collected is indicated.
  • Company may combine data with additional data from third-party sources.
  • Combined information is treated as personally identifiable information (PII).
  • Notice is provided if the context in which data are collected changes.
  • Consent is obtained if the practices in which data are collected change.
  • A grievance or remedy mechanism is available for users to file a complaint.
  • Users can request to know what personal information has been shared with third parties.
  • Notice is provided in the event the company receives a government or legal request for a user's information.

Common Sense Standard Privacy Report (SPR)

The standard privacy report (SPR) displays all the privacy practices from a product's policies in a single, easy-to-read outline. The report shows a green check mark for better privacy practices and an orange alert for risky or unclear practices. This alert indicates that more time should be focused on these particular details prior to use.

About Privacy Evaluations

The privacy evaluations have been designed with the help and support of a consortium of schools and districts across the United States. These evaluations are designed to help educators make informed decisions about the potential privacy implications of educational technology used to support teaching and learning.

Our core evaluation criteria will always be freely available. People are encouraged to read the questions we use and our information security primer. Vendors are encouraged to use our questions and the information security primer to self-evaluate. You can also learn more about our evaluation process. Please be in touch with any questions or feedback.