Microsoft Announces Steps to Strengthen Consumer Privacy Online

NEW YORK, June 23, 1999 — At PC Expo today, Microsoft Corp. announced that the company is taking a series of steps to strengthen consumer privacy on the Internet. During his keynote address, Microsoft Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Herbold outlined five initiatives that will help Microsoft and the e-commerce industry place a higher priority on consumer privacy.

“Inadequate privacy protection is a top barrier to the continued growth of e-commerce, and our goal is to provide the leadership, expertise and technologies to help move the industry forward on this front,”
Herbold said.
“Today we are announcing some important steps to build people’s confidence in the Internet as a global medium for communications and commerce. Still, we have a long way to go both as a company and as an industry to ensure that consumers who use the Internet feel their personal information is used in the way they want it used.”

Privacy Wizard

The Privacy Wizard, which was co-developed with the TRUSTe privacy seal program, was posted as part of the Microsoft® MSN TM LinkExchange Web site ( http://privacy.linkexchange.com/ ) only six weeks ago, and already more than 2,000 companies have used the tool to help develop privacy policies. To encourage even more rapid proliferation of comprehensive privacy statements, Microsoft will make the Privacy Wizard widely available to individuals and small businesses that create or manage Web sites. The Privacy Wizard will now be offered more broadly on Microsoft.com and the MSN network of Internet services – two of the top 10 sites on the Internet – and will be displayed or linked to other product-related Web sites such as the section about the FrontPage® Web site creation and management tool on MSDN TM Online.

“One of the keys to accelerating online privacy is making it easy for every Web site, small or large, to adopt trusted privacy practices,”
said Bob Lewin, executive director of TRUSTe, a nonprofit organization that helps Internet companies develop responsible information practices.
“It is critical that small-business owners and individuals have access to tools like the Privacy Wizard from the outset so they can build their business models with privacy standards in mind. Our hope is that after creating a privacy statement, these companies will take the next step by becoming certified.”

Privacy Requirements for Online Advertising

Microsoft, the largest online advertiser, announced that it plans to purchase advertising space only on Web sites that have comprehensive privacy policies posted by the year 2000. Herbold said Microsoft’s goal is to help encourage a more rapid proliferation of quality privacy statements by making it easy to create a privacy statement using Privacy Wizard ( http://privacy.linkexchange.com ) and by giving Web managers six months to do so.

Citing a recent Georgetown University study, which found that 97 of the top 100 sites have privacy statements, Herbold said the focus now must be on increasing the quality of those statements. A comprehensive privacy statement will include policies covering these core principles: notice of customer information being collected; consent to providing such information; access to that information; security of the information, including considerations for children; and enforcement of the privacy statement.

Working with the sites on which it advertises, Microsoft will provide direction on using the Privacy Wizard and will strongly encourage each company to seek a relationship with TRUSTe, the Better Business Bureau Online (BBBOnLine) or another independent, industry-recognized privacy program to obtain a certified privacy statement. By promoting the adoption of independently certified privacy policies across hundreds of Web sites, Microsoft hopes to afford consumers a safer online experience.

Extending Privacy Policies

Microsoft has clarified and extended its privacy policies so customers worldwide will know that Microsoft adheres to high privacy standards. MSN has broadened its privacy statement to all 29 of its international portal sites and has translated it into 15 languages. The privacy statement on Microsoft.com clearly reflects the principles the company finds important, including notice, consent, access, security, enforcement and considerations for children.

Encouraging Privacy Standards

Microsoft is leading the development of a standard platform for privacy, the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) Project, through participation in the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. P3P was started by W3C in 1997 to meet the data privacy expectations of consumers while assuring that the Internet remains available and productive for commerce. The Privacy Wizard is the first application of the P3P syntax to privacy statements and will help customers create such statements in Extensible Markup Language (XML). Since they can be easily interpreted by software, these XML statements are intended to spur the creation of technologies that one day will enable customers to choose the sites they visit based on their privacy assurances.

Microsoft Passport

Initially introduced at Microsoft’s Commerce Solutions Briefing in March, Microsoft Passport will simplify consumers’ online experience by allowing them to create a single
“wallet,”
name and password for use with any Passport-enabled Web site. To help ensure that users have a safe online experience, Microsoft will require all businesses that support the Microsoft Passport initiative to be a participant in an industry-recognized independent privacy program, such as the TRUSTe or BBBOnLine privacy seal programs

Microsoft and Privacy

In 1998, Microsoft mobilized a companywide campaign to put consumers in control of their online personal information, and began widespread education of its business partners and the industry at large about the need to protect consumer privacy online. Microsoft has made online privacy a priority from both a technical and policy standpoint by working with privacy organizations and incorporating technology into many of its Internet products and services to enable the trusted exchange of private information online. The company has also participated in programs to educate a broad range of consumers, including children, about effective ways to use the Internet safely and protect personal data online.

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.

Microsoft, MSN, FrontPage and MSDN are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.


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