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Just Who Owns Your Data? 3 April 2001 Edition
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Every day, Internet users entrust some of their valuable, sometimes confidential information and data to services and websites -- without even checking the terms and conditions associated with the use of those services.

And, when you stop to read those terms and conditions, the results are more than a little frightening!

Take for example Microsoft's Passport site which makes huge claims about improving your security and keeping your valuable information safe.

Yes, we're supposed to trust Microsoft to develop a system that will keep our valuable data safe and secure. Remember -- this is the company which not only can't produce a secure browser -- but also can't even produce a patch that works properly!

Need more proof as to Microsoft's proven inattention to detail?

Look what Netscape users see when they try clicking on a link titled "Passport Q&A."

Okay, testing with a competitor's product might be an anathema to Microsoft but a vendor's failure to test properly and inattention to detail are a hacker's best friends.

US Navy Plane To be Held To Ransom?
As tensions increase between China and her neighbors, the unexpected emergency landing of a US Navy surveillance plan at one of its airports may seem like a gift from the Gods

Find out more at 7amNews/ShockHorrorProbe...

But the biggest danger for users of this and other Microsoft sites might not come from hackers -- but from the license you agree to when you choose to use the service.

Assuming you're using an acceptable browser, the Terms of Use page makes for interesting reading -- particularly the part under the heading LICENSE TO MICROSOFT where you agree to allow MS the right to bend, fold spindle or mutilate anything you send them for whatever purpose they choose.

Yes, the very act of sending stuff to Microsoft allows them to "exploit any proprietary rights in such communication, including but not limited to rights under copyright, trademark, service mark or patent laws under any relevant jurisdiction".

What's more -- "No compensation will be paid with respect to Microsoft's use of the materials contained within such communication."

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Pretty frightening eh? Pretty ironic also that Microsoft, who are increasing their anti-piracy efforts want you to give them the rights to your intellectual property just for using their service.

Of course this license to bend, fold, spindle and mutilate doesn't apply to your credit card details (I hope!) but only to other stuff you might send them for whatever reason. Still -- it's a very onerous condition of use.

But what about other sites -- do they also want to steal your intellectual property, copyrights, patents and whatever?

Yahoo's terms of service at first appear a little more reasonable -- they want you to hand over the keys to any images, audio or video you might upload to their systems -- but you can withdraw their rights by removing the material in question. This sounds fair -- they need to have a license to publish if you're going to be making that material available through their system -- but only for the period during which it's online.

However they then go on to say if you upload anything other than pictures, sound and video, you're effectively granting Yahoo "world-wide, royalty free and non-exclusive license(s)" and that this license is a "perpetual, irrevocable and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, publicly perform and publicly display such Content (in whole or in part) and to incorporate such Content into other works in any format or medium now known or later developed."

I think you'll agree that it's time to go back and re-read the fine print associated with any online services you might regularly use.

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Critical patch for IE5 released (Microsoft - 02/04/2001)

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Copyright © 2001, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request

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