US Privacy groups want action on Passport

Privacy advocates in the US are demanding that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stop Microsoft from "unfairly and deceptively"...

Privacy advocates in the US are demanding that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stop Microsoft from "unfairly and deceptively" obtaining customer information through its Passport services and Windows XP.

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

According to a Microsoft representative, the letter was nothing more than a rehashing of old complaints to coincide with the release of Windows XP.

The groups expressed concern 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.

"Microsoft should be stopped from stating or implying that having a Passport issued by Microsoft is necessary to obtain access to the Internet, " said Jason Catlett, president of the US-based privacy company, Junkbusters. Catlett claimed the FTC had failed to protect consumers by not taking public action against Microsoft.

"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 Centre (EPIC), one of the groups to sign the letter.

Microsoft has denied that it uses deceptive practices and continued to accuse EPIC and other groups of playing to the media rather than working with Microsoft to resolve the problems

The privacy groups said that Microsoft's response to their original complaint in July had failed to address the illegal and intrusive behaviour they had documented.

The groups also listed several security failures by Microsoft, which they said indicated that the software maker cannot keep consumers' personal information secure.

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