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Windows XP, Hailstorm Face Privacy Challenge in FTC

Privacy watchdog groups filed a complaint Thursday with the Federal Trade Commission challenging Microsoft's attempts to integrate Windows XP, Passport and eventually Hailstorm.

"Microsoft has engaged, and is engaging in, unfair and deceptive trade practices intended to profile, track and monitor millions of Internet users," the 20-page complaint asserts. "Central to the scheme is a system of services, known collectively as ".NET," which incorporate "Passport," "Wallet," and "HailStorm" that are designed to obtain personal information from consumers in the United States unfairly and deceptively."

The Electronic Privacy Information Center and a dozen other groups filed the complaint.

Among the groups' requests of the FTC are an investigation into Microsoft's information collection practices and an order for Microsoft to block sharing among Microsoft areas of personal information provided by a user while registering for Passport.

The groups demand changes to the Windows XP operating system, including a revised Windows XP registration procedure that clearly informs purchasers that they don't need to register for Passport to access the Internet and easy options for users to integrate non-Microsoft services for online payment, electronic commerce and other Internet-based commercial activity.

The complaint was filed even as Microsoft senior vice president Jim Allchin announced that the second Release Candidate for Windows XP was pending. Microsoft has committed to a general availability date of Oct. 25 for Windows XP.

The challenge is the second high-profile obstacle of the week to Microsoft's release schedule. Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer called for Senate hearings about possible anticompetitive bundling in Windows XP.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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