June 13, 2002, 10:20 AM — Data protection officials from the 15 European Union (EU) countries will meet next month with the European Commission to decide whether to open a formal investigation of Microsoft Corp.'s .Net Passport authentication system.
A Commission official on internal market issues said Thursday that the member states of the EU might take legal action against .Net Passport, on the grounds that it breaks European privacy laws.
"The topic is on the agenda for the meeting on July 1 and 2," she said, requesting anonymity. "The member states have indicated that they will make a statement concerning Microsoft's Passport after the meeting."
Earlier this week Microsoft said its .Net Passport, which some Web sites use to identify visitors, complies both with the letter and the spirit of Europe's tough privacy laws.
Microsoft licenses its .Net Passport system to companies so they can carry it on their own Web sites. "It is early days for online authentication. It is important to get it right, not just the letter but the principle of privacy law. We think we do a good job with that," said John Frank, Microsoft's senior counsel in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.