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[ga-sys] Re: Microsoft Agrees to Sign Pact On Data Privacy With the EU

  • To: Bruce James <bmjames@swbell.net>, <ga-sys@dnso.org>
  • Subject: [ga-sys] Re: Microsoft Agrees to Sign Pact On Data Privacy With the EU
  • From: Joanna Lane <jo-uk@rcn.com>
  • Date: Wed, 16 May 2001 03:33:43 -0400
  • In-Reply-To: <000c01c0ddae$b7ce6a20$847fd840@a>
  • Sender: owner-ga-sys@dnso.org
  • User-Agent: Microsoft-Outlook-Express-Macintosh-Edition/5.02.2022

on 5/15/01 10:20 PM, Bruce James at bmjames@swbell.net wrote:

> May 16, 2001
> --------------------------------------------------------------------
> Microsoft Agrees to Sign Pact
> On Data Privacy With the EU
> BRUSSELS -- Microsoft Corp. said it will comply with a controversial
> agreement between the U.S. and the European Union that requires companies
> doing business in Europe to provide extra privacy protections.
> The agreement, brokered by the Department of Commerce with the EU,
> covers all data collected, either online or through other means.
> Some large U.S. companies have criticized European privacy laws as
> ambiguous and needlessly costly. The so-called safe-harbor accord, which
> took two years of talks to hammer out, offers a way for those companies to
> adhere to Europe's privacy guidelines. The EU is considering refinements to
> those standards, but some Bush administration officials are urging the EU to
> delay those discussions.
> Microsoft, which expects to notify the Commerce Department in coming
> weeks of its intentions, would join 40 other U.S. companies to sign the
> privacy pact since it went into effect Oct. 25. Other U.S. Internet
> companies are expected to follow suit, since by not signing the accord they
> risk more stringent oversight by European regulators when they do business
> in Europe.
> Microsoft says it intends to meet and even exceed the agreement's
> criteria. Moreover, the Redmond, Wash., software maker says it will apply
> strict, European-style privacy principles even to people residing outside
> Europe.
> "We don't want to treat data of EU citizens differently from that of
> Canadian or American or any other citizen," said Richard Purcell,
> Microsoft's director of corporate privacy. Mr. Purcell said Microsoft will
> go beyond the letter of European Union law by allowing people to access and
> change their personal data any time, as often as they like, free of charge.
> The EU law allows companies to charge a nominal fee for the service.
> The new agreement is designed mainly to protect companies that join it
> from being sued by European citizens or authorities for noncompliance with
> the EU's Data Protection Directive, which went into effect in 1998.
> That law, designed to fight junk mail and other privacy abuses,
> restricts the collection of EU residents' personal data to specific,
> legitimate purposes and requires anyone processing such data to permit the
> subjects of that information to see it, change it and even delete it.
> In lieu of signing the U.S.-EU privacy agreement, some U.S. companies,
> such as Citibank, have struck individual agreements with European
> authorities to ensure the firms are in compliance with the standards.
> Some of Microsoft's recent Internet initiatives in the U.S. have drawn
> fire from privacy advocates. The company's planned "HailStorm" services, for
> instance, could require people to provide sensitive information, such as
> credit-card numbers, personal addresses and calendars, for storage in
> Microsoft databases. Microsoft says it will guard such information and use
> it to offer services to consumers, such as e-mail notification services and
> ways to make it easier to shop on the Web. But some Microsoft products have
> a mixed record when it comes to security, and experts fear hackers could
> enter the company's servers and hijack consumers' personal information.
> -- Rebecca Buckman in San Francisco contributed to this article.
> Write to Brandon Mitchener at brandon.mitchener@wsj.com

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