REDMOND, Wash., July 20, 2000 — As part of its ongoing commitment to enable consumers to control their personal information on the Internet, Microsoft Corp. today released a test beta of several privacy-enhancing cookie management features for the Internet Explorer technologies in the Microsoft® Windows® operating system. The new features will provide consumers with a clearer understanding of the different types of cookies used and where they originate. The features will also provide more selective prompts, or alerts, when cookies arrive, as well as an easier way to manage and delete cookies. The new update is being released to more than 2000 Windows beta testers in the form of a technical beta for Internet Explorer version 5.5 technologies. The beta testers for this release include consumers and corporate users as well as industry partners. Following feedback from these testers, Microsoft plans to release a public beta within four weeks.
“As we move into the .NET environment, Microsoft is taking significant steps to put the power of personal information back into the hands of the consumer by addressing privacy and security concerns at the foundation of the software industry,”
said Bob Herbold, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Microsoft.
“The steps we’ve taken to build robust privacy-enhancing features directly into the Windows Internet technologies will enhance the customer experience by allowing consumers to define and control their information while taking advantage of the next generation of Web services.”
Microsoft made the decision to make the update available based upon consumer feedback expressing confusion over cookies, conversations with privacy advocacy groups and meetings with state attorneys general at the National Association of Attorneys General meeting held in Seattle last month.
“I applaud Microsoft’s responsiveness and leadership in dealing with this important issue,”
said Bill Lockyer, California attorney general and chair of NAAG’s Internet and Privacy Committee.
“Protecting consumer privacy is a priority; these changes to Internet Explorer 5.5 will be an important step in reaching that goal.”
Cookies are small pieces of information that can be placed onto the hard drive of a Web site visitor. Cookies are often used to capture data about online behavior for personalizing a site according to a consumer’s preferences, and they can also be placed on a machine by Web advertisers to determine when that machine is used to view a particular advertisement. Cookies can also be placed by a third-party advertiser for the purpose of better targeting consumers based on their online profiles.
said Chris Jones, vice president of the Windows Client Team at Microsoft.
The new functionalities will build on the cookie management features already in Internet Explorer browser software. The new tools include the following:
Consumer notification for cookies. The new enhancements to Internet Explorer present a balanced discussion of cookies and help consumers to differentiate between first- and third-party cookies. Additionally, the cookie notification default setting will prompt consumers any time a third-party persistent cookie — a cookie that remains on the consumer’s hard drive for a specified period of time — is being served to the consumer’s machine. The default response for all cookie confirmation prompts is for the cookie to be accepted.
Cookie control. A
“delete all cookies”
button has been added on the primary Internet Options page. This provides a mechanism for easily deleting all cookies from all locations on a consumer’s hard drive in the event that the consumer does not want to receive any of the customization that cookies provide.
Help. New help topics are added that more specifically address cookies and cookie management. Also, new top-level items are added to the help menu to allow users quicker access to security and privacy information.
The cookie management update is a beta test and the first step in providing a comprehensive privacy solution that may include technology such as the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) or TrustLabels, both of which aid consumers in expressing their privacy preferences as they interact with Web sites. Microsoft is committed to working with consumers, Web publishers and advertisers, privacy advocates, and the government in achieving such a comprehensive solution. Microsoft’s support for the P3P specification was demonstrated at an Interop session in June hosted by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), where the company announced that it would support P3P in its next version of Windows, code-named
Technology based on P3P will provide a standard and automated way for consumers to compare their privacy preferences with the privacy practices of the Web sites they visit.
Microsoft and Privacy
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. Microsoft led the June 21 W3C Platform for Privacy Preferences effort by becoming the first company to announce that it would build the industry-backed, privacy-enabling P3P technology into its operating system.
Microsoft has helped more than 18,000 Web sites generate privacy statements based on the Fair Information Principles using its Privacy Wizard, a privacy statement generator located at http://privacy.bcentral.com/ .
Microsoft has also developed Kids Passport, a service that helps parents to protect their children’s privacy online by deciding whether children may use participating services that collect and/or disclose personal information. Microsoft places online ads only with companies that have privacy statements in accordance with the Fair Information Principles. The company frequently participates in programs such as GetNetWise and StaySafeOnline to educate a broad range of consumers, especially children, about effective ways to use the Internet safely and protect personal data online.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.
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