Microsoft’s new policy of scanning computers for illegal software when they contact the site for upgrades or downloads could have serious privacy issues. Microsoft says that 35% of the software in use worldwide is counterfeit, at a cost to the software industry last year of $1 billion. Users of the estimated 100 million computers worldwide running illegal copies of the operating system will not receive the upgrades and can only receive security patches. However if the purchase of the illegal software was unintentional and the users fills out a piracy report for Microsoft the software company will provide Windows XP to the user. Microsoft also collects data on software being used as well as data on the flow of information between the operating system and other hardware, such as printers. No personally identifiable data will be collected, says Microsoft, and information will remain completely anonymous.
For Microsoft’s statement on its data collection see:http://update.microsoft.com/windowsupdate/v6/default.aspx?ln=en-us
From an article by Nvall Engfield in E-TIPS. E-TIPS is a publication of Deeth Williams Wall LLP and edited by Richard Potter QC. To review past issues of the E-TIPS newsletter, visit:http://www.dww.com/newsletter/archive.html
For comment by the EFF of the Federal Bureau of Investigations use of National Security Letters to seek wide ranging information from online service providers see: http://www.eff.org/news/archives/2005_08.php#003872
For a review of the US v Councilman case (US Appeals court preserves email privacy)