Forced to sign up for Microsoft Passport

I rarely get unusually agitated with most companies products or services. It’s fairly easy for me to understand what they’re trying to do, see the motivation behind something and therefore find ways around what I find objectionable.

Just hooked up the XBox 360 we bought last night and setup XBox Live. During the 360 setup process, Microsoft forced me to set up a Microsoft Passport account in order to proceed. With an 11 year old eagerly anticipating its hookup, what do you think I did?

I didn’t want a Passport account having railed against this single sign-on initiative when it was first introduced — as did organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation that viewed it as a threat to privacy. Shame on me for thinking that this initiative was, in fact, dead and buried. It’s not and yet it makes me curious as to why, especially when stuff like this is in their privacy policy:

Passport occasionally hires other companies to provide limited services on our behalf, such as answering customer support inquiries or performing statistical analyses of our services. Passport will only provide these companies with those pieces of your personal information needed to deliver the services, and the companies and their employees are prohibited from using that personal information for any other purpose.

To do what? Perform analytics on game play, games purchased? What’s loaded on the XBox when we’re using it as a media center? Mapping data from the XBox matching it to my credit card information? In any event, I’m growing weary of trading all my data, clickstream, purchases and other attention information without knowing what it’s being used for by a company.

Microsoft claims to be a member of Truste (the non-profit privacy organization) but I can find little on Truste’s web site about our pals in Redmond. So you and I have no clue about what they’re doing with our data.

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1 Comment

  1. Sean Kelly on April 11, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    I can’t speak for Microsoft, but I can say they take privacy very seriously. Every team is required to undergo privacy training and so I have had to sit in a conference room and have a lawyer explain this stuff to me. We were informed that if we ever wanted to use data we collect we must spell it out specifically how we intended to use it or include language like this in our privacy statement. They made it clear it would be a firing offense to do otherwise. They also heavily encouraged us to consider ways to aggregate the data together so that there was no personally identifable information.



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