Redmond, Wash., June 22, 1998 — As more and more people use the Internet for commerce and communication, protecting the privacy of personal information becomes increasingly important. Microsoft, an early advocate for online privacy, has been a leader in helping the information technology industry create a framework for self-regulation that will ensure a safe and secure environment for everyone who uses the Internet.
Today, Microsoft made several announcements that demonstrate its continuing leadership in online privacy. First, Microsoft announced that it has joined with nearly 50 other U.S. companies and associations to create the Online Privacy Alliance, a cross-industry coalition committed to protecting individual privacy on the Internet. The goals of the Alliance are:
to identify and advance fair privacy protection measures across the private sector;
to support and foster development and use of self-regulatory enforcement mechanisms and activities as well as technology and standards that helps protect privacy;
and to support compliance with, and strong enforcement of, applicable laws and regulations.
The Alliance and its members also plan to support policies that protect the privacy of children, and will promote broad participation in Alliance initiatives by businesses, nonprofit organizations and consumers.
“As evidenced by today’s actions, Microsoft is committed to building consumer trust on the Internet and to empowering people with the ability to manage their personal information online,” said Bob Herbold, Microsoft’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We are confident that by working with this broad range of leading companies and organizations, such as AOL, AT & T, IBM, DMA, Time Warner, American Express, Procter and Gamble, and Viacom, we are creating a strong and effective framework for self regulation, which will help ensure a safe and secure Internet environment for people of all ages.”
Microsoft also announced its membership in TRUSTe, a nonprofit global privacy initiative dedicated to building trust and confidence in online transactions. TRUSTe provides a standardized, cost-effective program, backed by a third-party oversight process, that allows Web publishers to tell users how their site gathers and disseminates information. Sites that meet TRUSTe’s guidelines may display a “trustmark” symbol to inform users of their participation in the program.
“Microsoft has built a solid business on empowering its customers as individuals. Their commitment to putting people in control of their information is terrific. I hope the company’s example encourages many others to follow suit,” said Esther Dyson, chairman of EDventure Holdings, Inc. and a TRUSTe advisor.
Microsoft also plans to participate in the Online Privacy Summit, June 23-24, hosted by the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C.
Over the past several years, Microsoft has implemented many other initiatives and activities to help address the issue of online privacy protection:
Microsoft online sites have privacy statements that are one click away from their front-page screens. These statements outline what personal information is collected, how it will be used, and how the user can opt out of any additional uses of their information. In most cases, no personal information is needed in order to view the site.
Microsoft has created a Personal Information Center on Microsoft.com, which allows customers to select the information they would like to receive, to have access to and edit their personal information whenever they choose, and to request that no unsolicited emails are sent.
Microsoft has actively participated in efforts by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to design the software specification for the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) — a tool to enable user control of personal information through interaction between the user’s browser and a Web site’s stated information collection policies.
To help ensure that the Internet is a safe place for kids, Microsoft supports the work of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) in drafting guidelines to govern web sites targeted at children.
Last April, Microsoft acquired Firefly Network Inc., a leading provider of technology that makes possible the trusted exchange of personal information on the Internet. Firefly has been a pioneer in developing privacy practices and technologies for the Web, including being instrumental in the development of the initial TRUSTe program and P3P. The acquisition benefits consumers worldwide by enhancing the company’s ability to deliver more privacy-rich products and services on the Internet.