Microsoft: Q&A on settlement with the FTC

Microsoft has posted a Q&A with Brad Smith, Senior Vice President and General Counsel and Brian Arbogast, the Microsoft corporate VP responsible for Passport.

Looking back, Passport has been one of the bigger debacles for Microsoft. The over-reaching “.NET My Services” (or Hailstorm) plan built on Passport provoked a widespread industry backlash which led to the opening that Sun Microsystems saw in leading the creation of a new industry group, the Liberty Alliance. Now, in a settlement with the FTC, Microsoft agrees to deal with its other claims regarding the security and privacy of Passport and user data with a 20 year oversight.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said last week that he expected his team to live up to a higher standard in terms of corporate behavior. Let’s hope the whole Passport episode was from that earlier era and that, going forward, Microsoft will be more thoughtful about both its claims and aspirations with respect to user identity, authentication, security and privacy.

Dan Gillmor also comments:

Once again, Microsoft is found not to be telling the truth about serious issues. And, once again, the governmental agency with the power to do something realistic fades away on contact.

The FTC hasn’t even issued a slap on the wrist here. It merely got Microsoft to agree not to do it again.

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