Windows 2000 Compulsory Registration Warning

Intel's inclusion of a traceable number associated with each of its new
Pentium III processors, designed to aid in authenticating Internet users
online but viewed by many as a privacy infringement flaw, has raised
awareness of the issue of computer privacy. Certain to add wood to the
fire is a report from Junkbusters Corp. President Jason Catlett that says
Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming Windows 2000 may require periodic payment to
the company for its use, which would lead to inevitable identification of
the user.
Currently, virtually no software programs require mandatory registration
with the developer. Once the product has been purchased it is usually left
to the user whether they want to register with the company or not.
Companies often tie registration in with technical support services and
future upgrade promotions to make it more attractive for users to register.
But critics of Microsoft claim that mandatory registration for using
Windows 2000 infringes on individual privacy rights.
Catlett says in his report that Microsoft's "ability to coerce mass
registration of personal information from users in Windows 2000 may
threaten both consumer privacy and competitiveness."
Evidently, news that the company was considering such a tactic came to
light through documents released as a result of its ongoing competitive
practices trial, covered extensively by Newsbytes. Catlett adds that the
compulsory registration would also give Microsoft "an opportunity and
economic incentive to treat consumers and competitors unfairly."
Catlett, president of a company that says it "helps consumers defend
themselves against intrusive marketing and protect their privacy online,"
also has harsh words for Microsoft, its MSN division, and other electronic
commerce sites for "failing to provide the fundamental privacy protections
that consumers need before they will be willing to participate freely and
fully in the online medium."
The increasingly vocal criticism of Microsoft's privacy strategies reached
new heights in November when Bill Gates apparently promoted the Online
Privacy Alliance.
Said Catlett of that incident, "The monopolists of the information age
cannot be relied on to make decisions in favor of privacy when they have a
huge economic incentive to exploit all the personal data they can collect.
The bigger the company, the more comprehensive the profile they can build.
"He concluded: "Consumers should think about how much of their private
lives go through computers, and ask themselves whether they want Intel
inside their PCs and Microsoft in the middle of their business."