NEW YORK, June 23, 1999 — In his keynote at PC Expo ’99, Microsoft Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Herbold explained several steps the company is taking to strengthen consumer privacy on the Internet. Through Microsoft’s support of tools and standards that encourage companies to post comprehensive privacy policies, as well as reaffirming a strong commitment to its own customers’ privacy, these initiatives are intended to increase consumer trust and confidence on the Internet.
“Inadequate privacy protection is a top barrier to the continued growth of e-commerce,” Herbold said. “Our goal is to provide the leadership, expertise and technologies to help move the industry forward on this front.”
Herbold announced that, beginning in the year 2000, Microsoft plans to restrict its purchases of online advertising space in the United States to Web sites that have posted comprehensive privacy policies. The requirement will help encourage the development of policies that cover these core principles: notice of customer information being collected; consent to provide such information; access to that information; security of the information, including considerations for children; and enforcement of the privacy statement.
Individuals and businesses that create or manage Web sites can develop comprehensive privacy statements using the Privacy Wizard, a free online tool that asks a series of simple questions and generates a “template” privacy statement that can be reviewed, revised and posted. Since its introduction, more than 2,000 companies have used the Privacy Wizard to develop privacy statements, and Microsoft is working to make the tool more widely available on the Microsoft Web site and the MSN network of Internet services.
In order to “lead by example,” Microsoft also has clarified and extended its own privacy policies, reflecting the company’s high standards for the safety and security of its customers. The company is also leading the development of a standard platform for privacy, the Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P), initiated in 1997 by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). P3P provides for the creation of privacy statements in Extensible Markup Language (XML), an initiative that eventually will allow customers to choose the Web sites they visit based on their privacy assurances. Microsoft’s Privacy Wizard is the first tool to adopt this standard.
The company’s commitment to privacy is also reflected in Microsoft Passport, a tool that allows users to create a single “wallet,” name and password they can use on multiple Web sites. Microsoft will require that all Passport-enabled Web sites participate in an industry-recognized privacy program such as TRUSTe or BBBOnline.