We often focus on the U.S. metrics for Internet search share and Web-site traffic. But there's a whole world out there. And in Russia, at...

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We often focus on the U.S. metrics for Internet search share and Web-site traffic. But there’s a whole world out there. And in Russia, at least, AOL reaches more of the population than Google, Yahoo or Microsoft.

Internet measurer comScore didn’t give a total size of the Russian audience, but it did note the online population there is growing.

“[T]he average Russian Internet user went online 13 days in February, spent an average of 82 minutes per day online, and consumed 2,322 pages of content during the month,” comScore reported.

That’s still less than the typical user in the rest of Europe, but as comScore notes, the Russian Internet audience grew 25 percent last year.

Russian properties are the market leaders, but AOL — one of the five online giants involved in the merger and acquisition match game last week — manages to reach 42 percent of the Russian audience.

Google sites reach 40.5 percent. Microsoft sites reach 33.3 percent. Yahoo and News Corp. don’t crack the top 13.

Microsoft proposes privacy standards

In the midst of the maelstrom of online deals rumored to be in the works last week, Microsoft proposed a major plan for companies to self-regulate consumer privacy practices.

The company, responding to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requests for comments on the agency’s own plan for self-regulating online advertising, submitted a five-tiered system to protect consumer privacy. (Quick question: Does “self-regulate” qualify as an oxymoron?)

Microsoft is calling for “distinct privacy standards in five key circumstances: when site visitors’ data is collected for online advertising, when ads are delivered on unrelated sites, when sites engage in behavioral advertising, when personally identifiable information is used, and when sensitive personal data is used,” according to a news release.

These are the same principles Microsoft adopted last year for itself.

Online privacy standards will only become more important as major online players combine huge repositories of data about consumers.

In general, Microsoft’s system would require more disclosure from advertisers and consent from consumers as the risk to an individual’s privacy increased.

For example, the system would require advertisers to get “affirmative express consent” before using sensitive information “such as health or medical conditions, sexual behavior or orientation, or religious beliefs” for targeted advertising.

The Consumer Federation of America, also responding to the FTC’s request for comments, said “consumers cannot be adequately protected by self-regulatory principles and general FTC enforcement powers.”

A motion-sensing

game controller

from Microsoft?

An MTV News report out last week suggests that Microsoft is at work on a controller for the Xbox 360 that would mimic the successful motion-sensing remote controller for the Wii from Nintendo.

The story, which quotes an unnamed “developer who has been briefed on the project,” has been greeted with some skepticism, though MTV News did a good job meeting its critics’ questions.

Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America, said weeks ago that he didn’t doubt Microsoft and Sony would eventually try to copy the Wiimote, he just doubted they’d be successful.

“They will need to have software to support it because … the gaming industry is littered with one-ton peripherals that never go anywhere,” Fils-Aime said in an interview on the sidelines of the Game Developers Conference in February.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or biztech@seattletimes.com.