NY Times: Microsoft will alter software to protect privacy

Thanks to steven
for this link.

“Microsoft Corp. moved to defuse a potentially explosive privacy
issue on Saturday, saying it would modify a feature of its Windows
98 operating system that has been quietly used to create a vast
database of personal information about computer users.”

“Microsoft conceded that the feature, a unique identifying
number used by Windows and a handful of other Microsoft products,
had the potential to be far more invasive than a traceable serial
number in Intel Corp.’s new Pentium III that has privacy advocates
up in arms. The difference is that the Windows number is tied to an
individual’s name, to identifying numbers on the hardware in his
computer and even to documents that he creates.”

“The combination of the Windows number with all these data, the
company said, could result in the ability to track a single user
and the documents he created across vast computer networks. Hackers
could compromise the resulting database, or subpoenas might allow
authorities to gain access to information that would otherwise
remain private and unavailable. Privacy advocates fear that
availability will lead to abuses.”


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