Microsoft Joins BBBOnLine Board of Directors

REDMOND, Wash., Dec. 8, 1998 — Microsoft Corp. today announced it has joined the board of directors of BBBOnLine as a sponsoring business. BBBOnLine, a subsidiary of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), recently announced a new privacy program aimed at helping consumers safeguard their personal information on the Internet. A cornerstone of the program is a new BBBOnLine privacy seal that is scheduled to launch officially in early 1999. Web sites bearing the seal must post a privacy policy clearly telling consumers what personal information is being collected and how it is being used.

Microsoft is endorsing the BBBOnLine Privacy Program to help its business partners protect consumer privacy online, said Laura Jennings, vice president of the MSN
™
network of Internet services.

“Microsoft fully supports the goals of the BBBOnLine Privacy Program,”
Jennings said.
“We are strongly committed to protecting consumers’ personal information online and fully informing consumers about how their personal information is used. We ask the businesses who work with us to make a similar commitment, and we want to provide them with additional options, such as the BBBOnLine seal, for obtaining independent validation of their own efforts to protect consumers’ privacy at their Web sites.”

“Microsoft’s sponsorship of the BBBOnLine Privacy Program demonstrates the company’s leadership in respecting consumer privacy on the Internet and validates the importance of the BBBOnLine privacy seal,”
said Russell T. Bodoff, senior vice president and chief operating officer of BBBOnLine.
“Internet companies are ready and willing to establish a system of self-regulation to promote consumer privacy, and BBBOnLine will make sure consumers can trust that companies will do what they promise.”

Consumers who believe a Web site bearing the BBBOnLine seal has violated its own privacy policy can seek the Council of Better Business Bureau’s help in resolving their complaint. If a Web site is guilty of a privacy violation, it risks losing the BBBOnLine seal or having the matter referred to a government enforcement agency. The BBBOnLine privacy seal is backed by CBBB, an organization noted for its expertise and experience in conducting successful national self-regulation and dispute resolution programs.

Following the 85-year-old CBBB tradition of voluntary self-regulation, BBBOnLine will award a recognizable, affordable privacy seal to businesses whose privacy policies meet the principles outlined in their program. These principles are the work of leading scholars, privacy advocates and businesses working together to establish guidelines and mechanisms for enforcement. Information about the criteria for the program or for businesses that want to apply for a seal can be found on BBBOnLine’s privacy Web page at http://www.bbbonline.org/ .

Microsoft has actively supported industry initiatives aimed at promoting consumers’ online privacy in recent months. Following is a brief overview of Microsoft’s efforts to protect personal privacy online:

  • All Microsoft® online sites have privacy statements one click away from their front-page screens. These statements outline what personal information is collected, how it will be used, and how people can opt out of any additional uses of their information. In most cases, no personal information is necessary to view Microsoft Web sites.

  • Many Microsoft Web sites now bear the seal of TRUSTe, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building global trust and confidence in online transactions. That seal indicates a business has agreed to privacy principles developed by TRUSTe and will

undergo periodic audits to ensure that its privacy practices are in keeping with TRUSTe privacy policies.

  • Microsoft has created a Personal Information Center on its Web site ( http://www.microsoft.com/ ), which allows customers to choose the information they would like to receive, and to view and edit their personal information whenever they choose. The Personal Information Center also helps ensure that no unsolicited e-mail messages are sent to customers.

  • Microsoft this year acquired Firefly Network Inc., a leading provider of technology and services designed to make possible the trusted exchange of personal information between people and businesses on the Internet.

  • In October, Microsoft teamed up with TRUSTe and eight other portal companies – America Online Inc., Excite Inc., Infoseek Corp., Lycos Inc., Netscape Communications Corp., Snap Online! and Yahoo! Inc. – to launch the Privacy Partnership, a monthlong online banner ad campaign designed to raise awareness of privacy issues and educate consumers about protecting their personal privacy on the Web. The Partnership’s goal was to place the banners and messages on as many Web sites as possible to achieve a prevailing privacy consciousness across the Internet. The campaign resulted in at least half a million hits to the Privacy Partnership Web site and double the amount of traffic to TRUSTe’s Web site for the duration of the campaign. In addition, nearly 450 Web publishers have since joined the campaign.

  • Microsoft has been an active participant in online privacy conferences sponsored by the Online Privacy Alliance and the Software Publishers Association. The Online Privacy Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of more than 60 global corporations and organizations, advocates industry self-regulation as the best way to ensure that consumers maintain control of their personal data online. The Software Publishers Association is the principal trade association of the software industry, representing publishers in the business, home office, consumer, entertainment and education markets.

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
“MSFT”
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

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