Report: EPIC to protest Passport bundling with Win XP

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is preparing to file a complaint with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about Microsoft Corp.'s plans to bundle its Passport identification service with Windows XP, according to a published report Wednesday.

The Washington, D.C.-based public interest and advocacy group is concerned about the large volumes of customer data that Microsoft plans to store using the service. The software maker has a dubious reputation securing data, the EPIC said, according to a report in the online edition of The New York Times.

The EPIC will also call upon the FTC to mediate the "big architectural changes in the computing architecture" that Microsoft's Passport and services initiative Hailstorm will bring about. The issue, according to the EPIC, is a matter of public interest as Microsoft is likely to position itself in the center of Internet commerce and online activity, the report said.

Using Microsoft's Passport, Internet users have access to several online services using just one password. Passport stores the user's details, including address and payment information. Microsoft currently uses Passport as an authentication tool for its e-mail service, Hotmail.

The complaint will fall under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive trade practices. The EPIC expects to file its complaint within two weeks, the report said.

The news about the EPIC's complaint comes one day after Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, called for an investigation into Microsoft's plans to bundle certain applications with Windows XP. Schumer wants users to be able to pick, for example, their media player and instant messaging program.

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Joris Evers

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