11.09.08

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Microsoft: Big Offender of Privacy

Posted in Google, Law, Microsoft, Vista 7 at 8:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A couple of days ago we wrote about Hotmail and GNU/Linux. Microsoft seems unwilling to adapt to the Web and also depart from a ‘Microsoft Web’. It’s more interested in Internet abduction [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

Microsoft also hypocritically accuses Google of not honouring privacy, neglecting to account for its own behaviour which is far worse. As a timely example, here is a new Vista 7 story which spurred plenty of discussion.

Windows 7 Will Let Microsoft Track Your Every Move

[...]

While geo-aware locations are certain a hot item in the software world right now, they’re also at the heart of many ongoing privacy debates. Unfortunately Microsoft’s new feature is exactly the sort of thing that turns people’s mild suspicions into full, raging paranoia.

[...]

That strikes us as a recipe for disaster and something that will eventually blow up in Microsoft’s face (whether justified or not) because geo-tracking is a very sensitive issue and this implementation seems entirely ham-fisted and ill-conceived. Of course it’s a little better than past attempts by the company, which don’t even offer an on/off switch.

But why, for the love of all thing sane, would Microsoft not at least offer to notify you when an app is trying access geo-information? Indeed, that would be a good start. Then add the ability to deny the application access and you’re getting to the useful stage. Unfortunately, Microsoft reps tell CNet that such controls are “not currently on Microsoft’s roadmap for Windows 7.”

Windows already incorporates forensics (e.g. for police enforcement) under the guise — or excuse rather — of indexing and performance. Many of these issues were covered here before, accompanied with evidence. It’s a very broad and separate subject though.

Obeying laws and enforcing them obtrusively is one thing, but sometimes it goes too far. Sent to us last night was the following complaint about Microsoft’s behaviour:


I have an email which I cannot access. It is a free service called Hotmail.

“My lawyer said that I am entitled to compensation because they keep passing my sensitive private information with my address DOB photo around to third parties and now requesting more info from me.”For some reason, if the DOB has been entered incorrectly and needs updating, they REQUEST PERSONAL INFORMATION and they can use [it] to steal one’s identity.

I have sent them hundreds of emails and getting nowhere. I would like to go public to let others know what I am going through and they are in violation of privacy laws. They won’t provide a full contact name nor any contact details. I use the email for work and they simply send automated emails rather than getting off their butts and doing something about it. They say that it is Federal Trade Commission in US, I am not in the US I am in Australia and I have explained to them we do not have Federal Trade Commission and that they are requesting fictitious information. Well, I need my email address with all my work information and wondered if you know how I can go public with this as I feel this may be the only way to get something done about it. My lawyer said that I am entitled to compensation because they keep passing my sensitive private information with my address DOB photo around to third parties and now requesting more info from me.


Any thoughts?

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7 Comments

  1. Eruaran said,

    November 9, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Gravatar

    Giving personal information to third parties without someone’s consent is indeed a violation of Australian privacy laws.

    Take them to court and make them pay.

  2. pcolon said,

    November 9, 2008 at 10:48 am

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    First off by using a Microsoft “service”, you’re aiding & abetting a convicted monopolist (convicted in the USA and in EU).

    Second; why would you be handing off personal information to a convicted felon?

  3. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 9, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Gravatar

    It’s a bit more complicated than that. My ex girlfriend has had the same Hotmail account since before Microsoft bought Hotmail. People’s E-mail addresses are hard to change because of people’s address books.

  4. pcolon said,

    November 9, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Gravatar

    I could understand that, Back when I was doing contract work (travelin SAN architect, I had one E-Mail that was used for any contacts workwise and the other for friends & family. When I changed my address and moved my isp service, they changed my E-Mail account name without any notice. Clients kept telling me what was up with my e-mail? It was a real PIA tracking people and letting them know the new e-mail addr.

  5. DOUGman said,

    November 9, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Gravatar

    “People’s E-mail addresses are hard to change because of people’s address books”….Bollocks, some people are just lazy, I started using Hotmail back in 96′ and just emailed everyone from that account, that if they want to contact me via email, that they have to use my Gmail account for now on.

    D.

  6. Jose_X said,

    November 9, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Gravatar

    Keep the old accounts, but don’t reply using that address or advertise it.

  7. Roy Schestowitz said,

    November 9, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Gravatar

    Yes, that’s what I do.

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