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We have recently won a contract to provide a website for project run for a local authority. As part of the website, there should be a page with a simple map showing the project's locations, when you click one you get info text and an illustration photo. We have implemented it using Bing maps, but had to take it off because the local authority is "concerned that the use of Bing Maps is breaching Privacy".

I couldn't find any similar website that uses Bing Maps, but still can't' understand their concern.

Many websites that belong to the authorities are using Google Maps which I'm sure has the same Privacy policy as Bing. Example is the journey planner in BVG website, and Germany was the one to force Google to create the anonymizeIP function in Analytics. I seek any input about using Bing Maps in a local authority project website.

  • I think you have a communications issue outside the scope of this website and more in the scope of your firm and client – dassouki Dec 6 '14 at 13:02
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    Client relationship issues as they relate to BING privacy. I don't think such questions belong here as it seems to require legal expertise that this site is not capable of providing – dassouki Dec 6 '14 at 13:03
  • Thanks for your comment. Although there is a client relationship matter involved (and even human rights legal questions). I would however be grateful to hear if you had to had to develop such a page what would you use? Hopefully our company is not the first to decide on Bing (or even Google as Privacy is the same I reckon) for a project sponsored by the authorities. – Geremy Dec 6 '14 at 14:07
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According to the TOU for Bing Maps,

Microsoft may collect information such as, but not limited to, an end user’s IP address, requests, time of submissions and the results returned to the user, in connection with transaction requests to the Services. All access to and use of the Services is subject to the data practices set forth in the then-current Privacy Statement, a current copy of which is available at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=248686. You are responsible for providing end users with adequate notice of the privacy practices applicable to your Company Application.

So, if your bid didn't mention that you were going to use Bing or a similar online map service, you screwed up. But whether you did or not, you still have to allay your clients' concerns.

Maybe your solution involved uploading the data to Bing Maps itself, then your clients have a right to be concerned about privacy - not only will inadequate settings expose the data publicly, but being hosted directly on MS's servers means it's a potential target for misuse, theft, or rendition to government Three-Letter-Agencies. If that's your plan then you should change your plan quickly.

If, on the other hand, you were going to host the data yourself and only use Bing as a visualization platform, make that clear to them. The data can only be loaded from your servers by authenticated users from secure endpoints. Contact of your private spatial data with Bing's servers is minimal. If that is not sufficient, however, you may have to switch to a fully self-hosted solution like ArcGIS Server.

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I don't know much about Bing Maps API, but Google Maps APIs is definitely something you should bring to your client's attention PRIOR to signing the contract. From this article you can see that points like:

  1. Users will lose their privacy to some degree
  2. Google will use your data
  3. You have to use Google's logo
  4. Terms of use may change anytime so you can never know what's next
  5. Ads on map tiles and in search results (in case you don't have Enterprise Agreement)

I believe that like in the Google Maps APIs Terms, you are not allowed to hide your identity when using the API and you grant them (Microsoft in your case) the right to use your (your organisation's) name for marketing. It would therefore be best to ask Microsoft directly about it. Don't forget to let us know what they have told you ...

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    Nice article. I wish someone had done the same for Bing Maps – Geremy Dec 12 '14 at 20:12

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