Media player logs DVD information

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Media player logs DVD information

Privacy monitors have warned Windows XP users that Windows Media Player automatically tracks and posts information on users' DVD playing habits on the Internet.

According to an advisory from internet privacy activist Richard Smith, Windows Media Player 8, which comes with Microsoft's Windows XP, contacts a Microsoft Web server each time a new DVD is played on a computer.

The server is given a unique fingerprint for the DVD and the media player client, allowing Microsoft to track what movies are watched on a particular PC, Smith wrote in his advisory posted at www.computerbytesman.com/privacy/wmp8dvd.htm .

The unique code identifies the software, not the person using it. However, Smith claims that this anonymity could be lifted if the user signs up for the Windows Media e-mail newsletter. The locally stored file could pose a privacy problem if the PC is used by more than one person. A user could uncover what movies another user is watching.

In its privacy policy for Windows Media Player, Microsoft did not disclose that the software connects to a Microsoft server, Smith said.

Microsoft responded by claiming that it does not use the information and that it did not believe this issue presents a privacy concern. However, the software maker promised to amend its privacy policy to include the fact that Windows Media Player connects to the Web.

Users can turn off the Web lookup feature in Windows Media Player 8 by choosing to work offline in the "File" menu, Microsoft said. Another option is to change the privacy settings to block all cookies.

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