Privacy groups want FTC action on Passport

Privacy advocates are demanding that Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Timothy Muris stop Microsoft Corp. from "unfairly and deceptively" obtaining customer information through its Passport services and Windows XP operating system, which is due to be launched Thursday.

In a letter to Muris dated today and sent to congressional oversight committee members, several privacy groups urged the FTC to force Microsoft to "disgorge any personal information collected fraudulently and deceptively through XP and Passport."

Microsoft, through a spokeswoman, said today's letter and press conference are nothing more than a rehashing of old complaints to coincide with the release of Windows XP. "Microsoft has thoroughly addressed these claims," said Tonya Klause.

In their initial complaint (download PDF), the groups said they're concerned that the software manufacturer's Passport authentication service violates the FTC's unfair and deceptive practices statute because it has the potential to track and monitor Internet users, presenting serious privacy concerns.

In a press conference today in Washington, Jason Catlett, president of Junkbusters Corp. in Green Brook, N.J., said the FTC had failed to protect consumers by not taking public action against Microsoft. "Microsoft should be stopped from stating or implying that having a Passport issued by Microsoft is necessary to obtain access to the Internet. Microsoft is not lord of the Internet.

"The Federal Trade Commission has a statutory obligation to safeguard the interests of consumers in the online marketplace. This case is a test of the FTC's ability to act in the public interest," said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) in Washington, one of the groups to sign the letter.

Microsoft has denied that it uses deceptive practices and continued to accuse EPIC and the other groups of playing to the media rather than working with Microsoft to resolve the problems. Klause said Microsoft has offered to meet with EPIC to discuss its concerns.

Other groups that signed the complaint were Consumers Union, Consumer Action, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Junkbusters, the Media Access Project NetAction and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

Microsoft's responses to the complaint in July "were nonresponsive to illegal and intrusive behavior they had documented, such as implying that consumers must obtain a Passport from Microsoft before they can use the Internet," the privacy groups said.

They also listed several security failures by Microsoft, indicating that the software maker can't keep consumers' personal information secure.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer DiSabatino

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?