IDG’s InfoWorld Columnist Advises To “Check The Fine Print” In Microsoft’s Windows XP – Reports Privacy and Security Issues With Remote Access to End-User’s Computer Systems

SAN MATEO, CA – FEBRUARY 11, 2002 – InfoWorld Media Group, the provider of in-depth analysis of enterprise technology and strategies through its integrated online, print, research and events channels, today published a column discussing privacy and security concerns with Microsoft's Windows® XP. InfoWorld readers have discovered that the fine print in the Product Use Rights (PUR) agreement for the Windows XP Professional product authorizes Microsoft to access user workstations at will, reports InfoWorld columnist and reader advocate Ed Foster. Under the language of the legal agreement, users grant Microsoft the right to automatically download updates to its operating system software and Digital Rights Management technology.


"If Microsoft is concerned with end-users' security and privacy rights, their legalese clearly communicates the opposite," says Foster, long-time author of InfoWorld's "Gripe Line" column. "The vast majority of XP customers are probably unaware they've already granted Microsoft total access rights to their systems. Those corporate IT managers who have seen the language are deeply concerned about the consequences should Microsoft choose to exercise these rights now or in the future. They fear it could jeopardize the integrity of their corporate networks as well as possibly putting their organizations in violation of federal security guidelines and privacy laws that require them to protect access to their customers' records."

Microsoft's Windows XP Legalese Raises Privacy and Security Rights Concerns

InfoWorld reports on the following findings:

Language in the PUR authorizes Microsoft to "automatically check the version of the Product and/or its components that you are utilizing and may provide upgrades or fixes to the Product that will be automatically downloaded to your Workstation Computer."

Additional PUR language gives Microsoft the right to download "Security Updates" to Microsoft's DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology to protect the intellectual property rights of "Secured Content" providers – protecting the property rights of vendors, not the security of customers' systems.

Microsoft confirms that identical language to that in the PUR document viewable on Microsoft's website is also to be found in the Windows XP End User License Agreement that home and small business XP customers receive with the product.

In the column, Microsoft officials say it is not their intent to access a user's system when it is not desired. "We clearly have more work to do to make sure that it is clear when these automatic features are used," Microsoft officials told Foster in a statement.

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