'Soft Talk: New Hotmail settings might share your info, addresses 2002-05-14 by Cydney Gillis
MSN and Hotmail keep giving Microsoft Corp. headaches and embarrassment.
The latest is a doozy. Yesterday an irate reader tipped me off to the fact that Microsoft has changed the privacy settings for Hotmail.
What that means for subscribers to Microsoft's Internet service and millions more who use its free Hotmail e-mail service is that the company can share a Hotmail address with its partner Web sites.
In short, if you are already signed up for and use Hotmail, Microsoft has given itself the right to share your e-mail address and other data with outside companies -- even if you explicitly told Microsoft not to do so when you signed up.
It was done, says my reader -- who works at a Microsoft-dependent organization and asked not to be named -- without anyone's knowledge or consent, allowing Microsoft to share information with other Web sites that accept its .NET Passport, Microsoft's brand name for a universal, all-in-one password.
That could spell lots of spam, or unwanted e-mail, from Microsoft's partners. Here's what happened:
First, Microsoft added a new section at the bottom of its MSN Hotmail registration form. The form already asked for ``Profile Information,'' including your name, state, zip code, birth date, gender and occupation. Another section called ``Account Information'' asks what you'd like your Hotmail address and password to be.
Two particular boxes under Account Information are and, in all fairness to Microsoft, always were pre-checked. Unless a person deliberately unchecked them or ``opted out,'' as it's called, Microsoft always had automatic permission to list a new e-mail address in its Hotmail Member Directory and a separate Internet White Pages -- much like a new telephone number automatically comes with a directory listing.
It is there the comparison comes to a screeching halt.
Under Account Information, Hotmail has added three new boxes asking to ``Share my e-mail address,'' ``Share my first and last names,'' and ``Share my other registration information.''
If you went to sign up for a new account, as I did yesterday, none of those boxes would be checked. You would have to check them yourself to allow, or ``opt in'' to, the information sharing.
But if you already have a Hotmail account, guess what? Microsoft has checked two of the new boxes for you, allowing it to share your e-mail address and the other registration data such as your gender, occupation and birth date.
Tell me I'm wrong -- or that Microsoft has unchecked these options by the time this embarrassment hits the fan. If you have an active Hotmail account, go to www.hotmail.com. When the home page comes up, click on ``Options,'' followed by ``Personal Profile.''
Look for the boxes at the bottom, under a paragraph headed ``Tired of registration forms?'' In that paragraph, Microsoft explains how convenient it is to share your Hotmail registration information, which it uses to create the .NET Passport.
The policy, in fact, doesn't say a word about Passport, much less sharing anything with it.
Again, in all fairness to Microsoft -- which did not answer any questions on this topic by press time yesterday -- the company's privacy policies state that it may change them at any time.
``It was done without our knowledge and consent in a secretive manner in violation of Microsoft's own terms of service,'' my reader said.
``I consider it a security issue,'' the reader added. ``It's only justifiable that (Microsoft) be forced to send out an e-mail to all MSN subscribers and all other users of Hotmail notifying them this change has been made and offering us the opportunity to opt out.''
Dat is idd hetzelfde verhaal. Ik heb die checkboxen uit gezet, maar ik krijg nog steeds veel reclame zooi. Volgens mij als je adres eenmaal bekend is bij die instanties kom je er nauwelijks of heel moeilijk weer van af