Windows in privacy wrangle

Windows in privacy wrangle
Tom Foremski A new data privacy row has broken out with Microsoft admitting that Windows 98 stamps each document with a unique ID number. The feature was discovered by Richard Smith, president of US software firm Phar Lap Software. Smith noticed a hidden number within documents created in Word and Excel, two applications used by tens of millions of people worldwide. The number is transmitted to Microsoft as part of its registration process and could potentially be used to track authors of documents. Microsoft has said it will remove the feature in a future Windows 98 update. The controversy follows Intel’s problems with an embedded electronic ID number in its latest Pentium III processors. “I think that all this fuss over privacy issues with Microsoft and Intel is overblown,”said Greg Blatnik, v-p of US market research firm Zona Research. “But there is a potential for abuse and users should have privacy safeguards.”


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