Privacy watchdog the Electronic Privacy Information Center (Epic) said on Wednesday that it was in the process of filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission arguing against Microsoft's intention to bundle its Passport ID system with Windows XP. The move adds to the momentum building up against the new operating system (OS).
Epic is concerned about two aspects of the inclusion of Passport. Firstly, it is worried about the lack of security surrounding the information that users key in to access Passport, and secondly it believes that by bundling Passport with every copy of the OS it will enable Microsoft to position itself as the verification authority for ecommerce transactions.
The news of the Epic complaint, which the organisation says will be ready in the next couple of weeks, follows on from two other anti-XP moves earlier in the week.
Firstly New York Senator Charles Schumer is trying to halt the October release of XP. In a letter to Assistant Attorney General Charles James, head of the US Department of Justice's antitrust division, Schumer complained that Microsoft is engaging in "anti-competitive practices" against Eastman Kodak and AOL Time Warner, which happen to be headquartered in the state he represents.
His letter stated: "In building Windows XP, Microsoft appears to have hardwired preferences for Microsoft applications over those produced by competitors.
"It seems that Microsoft intends to maximise its monopolistic power, using XP to enter new lines of businesses - such as digital photography, media players and messenger services - while limiting the choices consumers have.
"Without open access, the fundamental principles of a free market are violated, innovation is stifled and consumer welfare is harmed."
In a second action software maker InterTrust amended an existing lawsuit against Microsoft, asking for an injunction against XP. The company charges that Microsoft's anti-piracy "product activation" software technology, which is being included in Windows XP, violates four InterTrust patents.
Microsoft, of course, was ready to counter the Epic and Schumer complaints. The company denied claims that Passport is a privacy threat and said that, while the Passport system allows users to automatically transfer personal and financial information about themselves to websites, users maintained control over the transfers.
With regard to the Schumer claim, the software giant questioned the intentions of the companies the senator was listening to.
"While we respect the opinion of Senator Schumer and all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Microsoft does not believe that the complaints of AOL and Kodak merit a congressional hearing," said a spokesperson. "Contrary to AOL's self-interested lobbying, Windows XP is designed to enable user choice and partner opportunity."
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