REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 20, 2001 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the launch of a new privacy education tool for consumers, an easy-to-use online quiz that helps them determine the level of privacy protection they want online, based on their Internet activity and preferences.
With security being top of mind these days, analysts suggest that people are renewing their focus on safety at all levels — personal, collective and online. Forrester Research Inc. recently said 60 percent of online consumers seriously worry about what will happen to the personal information they divulge online. With a record $9.9 billion online holiday shopping season predicted this year*, Microsoft believes that it will be especially important now to provide consumers with the information they need to stay safe online.
As part of an industrywide initiative to better educate consumers on privacy issues and computing safety, Microsoft has created an interactive quiz at http://www.microsoft.com/safeinternet/ to help people understand their online comfort level, get tips for Internet safety, and find information on some of the privacy tools currently available.
“Personal safety online is relatively simple if you stay alert and take the right precautions,”
said Richard Purcell, director of corporate privacy at Microsoft.
“We created this fun, interactive quiz to help people determine what level of privacy is important to them and learn easy ways to control their personal information.”
About the Quiz
Consumers who take the quiz will answer 10 questions about their regular online activities and computing preferences. The answers will be tabulated to determine how much information the consumer is comfortable sharing online and how that might translate into safety protections. The six levels of online comfort include the following:
Defender. One who is extra-cautious about protecting information and prefers anonymity online as much as possible
Protector. One who is concerned about keeping information private, but who understands that there are times when sharing limited information is appropriate to making online services more useful and compelling
Guardian. One who is fairly concerned with keeping information safe, but who understands that providing information online helps personalize and manage the Web to his or her tastes, making it more useful and personal
Observer. One who wants to keep an eye on the sharing of information, but who is comfortable with allowing companies to know him or her and personalize their services for him or her specifically
Accepter. One who accepts the idea that Web sites acquire information about Internet visitors’ habits, but who still wants a bare minimum of privacy protections in place
Supporter. One who fully supports sharing information with Web sites because of the benefits received
Once the consumer’s information-sharing comfort level has been established, a number of protection tips are recommended based on the user’s particular needs. Though the tips vary for each level, they include recommendations such as these:
Read and be sure you are comfortable with the privacy policies of Web sites you visit.
Obtain contact information (such as phone number and address) from Web sites before providing credit card information. This helps to ensure the business is legitimate and simplifies the returns process.
If you use high-speed connections such as DSL or cable, remember that this makes you an easy target for computer hackers. If you aren’t using a firewall already, you should purchase one.
Be sure retail Web sites you use display an onscreen padlock symbol , which indicates that they use encryption technology to protect transmitted information.
In addition, the quiz offers basic information on a number of privacy tools currently available from technology companies and other resources.
Privacy Tools Available from Microsoft
Microsoft has made online privacy a priority to help ensure that the Internet becomes a trusted environment for online consumers everywhere. As the Internet continues to become increasingly integral to daily life, Microsoft has created a number of resources to arm consumers with the tools they need to successfully and confidently manage their information online, including the following:
Windows XP. Microsoft’s latest operating system has several features designed to help consumers safely manage their information and use the Internet. Fast user switching allows multiple users on a single Windows XP-based machine to log into their own personalized account without having to log back on or closing applications opened by a previous user. Furthermore, passwords can be set on each account as well as specified profiles to establish the level of access other users will have on the computer. Also within Windows XP is the out-of-the-box Internet Connection Firewall designed to help protect computers from attacks. When used with Internet Connection Sharing, the Internet Connection Firewall protects all computers that share the same Internet connection.
SafeInternet site (
). This consumer-friendly Web site provides basic
“need to know”
information on privacy and security protections, as well as links to a variety of Web community resources on issues ranging from fraud prevention to filtering content for children.
Stay Safe Online site (
). This easy, kid-friendly Internet tutorial helps children (and parents) make smart choices about the use of Internet chat rooms, e-mail and Web sites.
Kids Passport. This Microsoft service helps parents protect their children’s privacy online by deciding whether children may use participating services that collect and/or disclose personal information. Kids Passport also help sites comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
Consumer and Industry Groups Offer Protections
Several leading consumer groups also have offered tools and advice for protecting information online, especially during the busy holiday shopping season:
National Consumers League (NCL). The NCL provides several resources for consumers on fraud prevention, maneuvering about online auctions, and knowing how and when to use a credit card for online shopping. Tips can be found at http://www.nclnet.org/shoppingonline/ .
National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators (NACAA). NACAA provides a resource aimed at ensuring that consumers have the tools they need for wise online activities and scam prevention at http://www.nacaanet.org/ .
TRUSTe. A privacy seal program dedicated to enabling individuals and organizations to establish trusting relationships based on respect for personal identity and information, TRUSTe also provides many tips to shoppers who want to keep their information safe, at http://www.truste.org/education/holiday_shopping_safety.html .
Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT). CDT is a policy and technology advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring individual rights of consumers surrounding issues such as privacy. CDT, at http://www.cdt.org/ , has several tools available to help consumers ensure the privacy of their information online.
BBBOnLine. The Better Business Bureaus BBBOnLine’s reliability and privacy programs promote trust and confidence on the Internet through shopping and surfing resources, including the following: http://www.bbbonline.com/consumers/index.asp .
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.
* According to a recent eCommercePulse SM survey released by Nielsen//NetRatings and Harris Interactive SM
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