Microsoft bows to EC ruling on .NET Passport

30 Jan 2003

Microsoft has agreed to make what have been described as radical changes to its .NET Passport system, after concerns were expressed about data privacy issues that could arise from internet identity systems.

Consumer authentication systems like .NET are used by businesses that have regular customers such as retailers and banks. These systems store a customer’s personal details in a single location in order to efficiently process transactions.

In a statement, the European Commission said Microsoft has agreed to implement “a comprehensive package of data protection measures, which will mean substantial changes to the existing .NET passport system”.

The European Union privacy watchdogs have spent the past six months examining online authentication systems such as Passport.

Spokesman for the EU’s executive body Jonathan Todd said it was now unlikely that the Passport system, which is used to identify internet users, would fall foul of government data protection rules in the union.

The commission added that the pledge by the software giant was a “radical change to the information flow” ensuring that internet users would get more information and a broader choice of how their personal information could be used.

The commission said it would continue to monitor systems such as Passport.

It’s expected that the ruling will have significant repercussions for businesses who conduct transactions online.

By Suzanne Byrne