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Microsoft Opts-In Hotmail Users 704

medeii writes "East Side Journal reports that without telling anyone, Microsoft has suddenly changed the privacy preferences for all Hotmail users. They're now sharing your name and other personal information with third parties, even if you said you didn't want that when you signed up. (If you're a user, login, go to Options > Personal Profile, and un-check the boxes at the bottom of that page.)" The same reporter has written a follow-up article today.
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Microsoft Opts-In Hotmail Users

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  • Surprise! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dieMSdie ( 24109 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @10:40PM (#3534307)
    And this is surprising, how?

    I mean, come on, this is Micro$oft we are talking about here... marketing, marketing, marketing!

    Besides, Yahoo led the way, did they not? I would not be surprised to find out that Microsoft watched that whole Yahoo business very closely, and saw the complete lack of any outcry as a "green light" to go forward with this.

  • Trust. . . . (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Com2Kid ( 142006 ) <> on Thursday May 16, 2002 @10:40PM (#3534308) Homepage Journal
    I don't care how good MS's software gets;

    they can spend all of the money that they want making their software better and better (hey, Win2K does indeed rock. Heh. :) ) but fact is;

    keep pissing people off and they will lose customers faster then 'software security audits' up to hell will gain them customers.

    (oh yah, and not making each OS more and more bleeping 'beautified' would be nice as well, I swear, if I wanted a pretty-boy interface I would've bought a mac!)

    ::hopes somebody hurries up and forces McNeel software to port Rhino3d to other x86 platforms. Is willing to provide crowbar to volenteer 'encourages' if necessary::
  • Funny, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <> on Thursday May 16, 2002 @10:40PM (#3534309) Homepage Journal
    Considering the amount of spam I get at my Hotmail accounts, I'm surprised that they haven't been doing this all along.
  • Re:Boycott Hotmail (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fjord ( 99230 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @10:49PM (#3534373) Homepage Journal
    Never go with your ISP's email. What if you want to change ISPs? Changing an email address can be a pain in the ass for you and the people trying to get in contact with you.
  • Re:Notice (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MImeKillEr ( 445828 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @10:49PM (#3534375) Homepage Journal
    No, this is why you create fake accounts and/or give false information. Never assume/believe that a company (especially MicroSoft) will act in good faith and keep the public's interests at heart - its not profitable.
  • Re:Good strategy. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <> on Thursday May 16, 2002 @10:52PM (#3534401) Homepage Journal
    You fail to see the genius of this plan.

    For months they have been trying to get people to sign up with their Premium Email package which expands the mailbox to 10Mb and lasts forever (or something like that). People have not been signing up. It's simply too easy to create a brand new address when one fills up, so Microsoft then has to deal with 2 accounts (and so on and so on and so on) for each customer who has used up their allotted space.

    Enter spam. If Microsoft can make it intolerable for ordinary users (non-Premier club members) to use Hotmail because the speed in which the account fills with spam is simply too fast, then they will push away those users who are not interested in paying for the service. Or they will attract the payers by making it intolerable to use the service otherwise.

    Bottom line: They reduce the total traffic on their site by sloughing off the leeches (including yours truly), and increase revenue at the same time.

    The idea is brilliant.
  • Re:Alternatives? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by digitalpeer ( 564005 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @10:54PM (#3534415) Homepage
    You know what, if google had web mail I'd almost pay to use it over something like hotmail. Google stands out in my opinion, not just becaue they have quality service, but they also have respectable business ethics.

    Notice that I said "respectable."
  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @10:54PM (#3534416)
    It doesn't matter. All they had to do is sell it once to some unscrupulous company in the minutes when the box was unchecked, and the dammage is done. There's no web form that can undo it. The effectively have licence to the data in your account during that brief period. Ingenious of them. Glad I don't have an account there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2002 @10:56PM (#3534430)
    Anyone who signs up to a hotmail account with real information is an idiot anyway.

    Of course, I don't like logging in only to find I have 120+ spam messages... f^ckers
  • Re:Surprise! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stcanard ( 244581 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @11:01PM (#3534472)

    Well, there's outcry and there's outcry.

    I had been using Yahoo email for a long time, and was planning to pay for the service since it was useful. Because of their change, I sent a letter to Yahoo indicating why I would not pay for the service, and am now using a new address.

    My yahoo address is still open, however, so I can catch the stragglers that haven't caught up yet. So from a superficial (number of users pov), yes, it appears that this didn't affect their business, but what you don't know is how many people like me changed their mind about paying for the service, or the trust that they had placed in Yahoo.

    The future will tell if the same thing happens with Microsoft. I don't have a hotmail address because I knew better than to trust Microsoft, but a lot of people didn't. The question isn't really (like Yahoo) whether this will cost them hotmail addresses, but whether this will cost them $ in future service offerings like the larger mailboxes.

  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @11:04PM (#3534482) Homepage Journal
    It's a safe bet that no matter what the vendor says, they will pimp out whatever they can for money. They will lie and cheat and then lie and cheat about that.

    Either don't give them any true or useful information or don't give them any information at all. Leave footprints like misspelling your own name in a very unique way. Track it and complain complain complain when you find them out. cc a copy of your complaint to your state attorney general's office.
  • by PepsiProgrammer ( 545828 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @11:06PM (#3534484)
    People smart enough to use mozilla should be smart enough to not trust their personal info to microsoft either.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2002 @11:07PM (#3534490)
    Ok they changed the default settings for everybody, then I go and change the settings back. But in the mean time they have already sold the info to other comapnies.

    so there is no point in changing the settings back, is there.

    The "proverbial" cat is out of the "proverbial" bag!
  • by A Bugg ( 115871 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @11:16PM (#3534540)
    Oh yeah you think thats bad, look at this. I tried to change the profile and when i unchecked the boxes, this is the error message i got:

    First Name
    Your lastname contains a word or phrase that has been reserved or is prohibited for .NET Passport
    registration. Please type a different lastname.
    Last Name

    I am really glad i can't use my own damned last name with .net, its so advanced and user friendly.

    A Bugg
  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @11:22PM (#3534578) Homepage Journal
    So much for Microsoft and its smarts. Either the policy is wrong or Microsoft was wrong to pre-check the boxes to share information -- both cannot be right.
    As a database programmer I know it's totally possible for checkboxes to display information contrary to what the real database has stored. Imagine that a given field is supposed to contain the values 0 or 1. 0 means no and 1 means yes. It's quite possible for a NULL value on a new field to be rendered as yes, even though nothing has been decided yet. If X == 0 then no else yes. There.
  • by FearUncertaintyDoubt ( 578295 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @11:32PM (#3534619)
    Netscape navigator 4.08 or later is supported, but not my Mozilla 0.99? a step backward? or basically just not going to be friendly towards open source?

    Well, they weren't found guilty of trying to run Mozilla out of business, just Netscape. I'm sure they're sensitive to charges that they are deliberately breaking compatibility with Netscape. But they're free to crush everyone else.

  • by Quay42 ( 444528 ) <slashdot@40two . o rg> on Thursday May 16, 2002 @11:35PM (#3534648) Homepage
    I sent off a nice long comment to Hotmail about this very fact (I'm sure they'll ignore it). Basically I mentioned the fact that they should just give me the damn HTML and let *me* decide it its supported. And since it was basically a simple form, even Lynx could handle it.

    If you got to Help, there a link at the bottom to send comments. Select "other" from there so that you can actually put in your comment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2002 @11:39PM (#3534668)
    * And more and more of my favorite things about hotmail. Isn't it just nifty?

    And yet, you keep using it. Now, ain't THAT nifty?

  • A simple solution (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2002 @11:44PM (#3534708)
    A simple, albeit partial, solution to many of these privacy breaches is to *always* provide false information in the first place.

    For any form, even non electronic stuf when I'm not required by law to be truthful I *never* am.
    Name, age, address, everything is wrong.

    This way their databases are full of useless crap.
    I still get to use the service and they'll never find out. If they do and they cancel it, I'll register again with more false info.
    Actually it is a good idea to have multiple false accounts anyway. More backdoors for me, more junk for their hard disks.

    Simple, hit them in the balls.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 16, 2002 @11:49PM (#3534741)
    What better way can you think of to sell our personal info? Lock out all the people who might care so they'll never see that their info is being stolen...

    If it wasn't for /. I wouldn't know about this... *grrr*

    At least they can only have fake info, tho :) But any reasonable person should never trust anyone born on 4/1/41 too much ;)
  • by (outer-limits) ( 309835 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @12:10AM (#3534843)
    A blatant case of breach of contract, but if the might of the US Govt can't sue them, what hope has anyone else got. Go on MS, do what you want. Short of a civil war, there is nothing else that can stop them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 17, 2002 @01:02AM (#3535047)
    So I was looking at my Passport profile information, which happened to be un-tampered with, and I decided to change my age. It's always good to try and keep MS on their toes. So I set my birthdate to Jan 1 2002, and logged out of Passport.

    This proves to be a big mistake. After all, MS is wathing it's flock.

    I am now locked out of Passport. Thats right, no hotmail, no profile access, nothing. Instead I get this...

    "We are required by U.S. law to get your parent's permission before allowing you to continue to use Hotmail. We use Kids Passport to get your parent's permission so you can start using Hotmail right away. To get started, answer the question below.

    And in a cute purple, pink, and yellow box it asks if my parents are with me, yes or no.

    Saying yes takes me to this informative page.

    Dear Parent,

    A U.S. federal law requires Hotmail to get parental consent before it can collect personally identifiable information from your child. As a result, your child needs your consent to register for a .NET Passport account. To provide your consent, follow these steps:

    1 Sign in using your .NET Passport account, or register for a free .NET Passport and then sign in.

    2 Provide consent for your child to use Hotmail and .NET Passport.

    3 Verify you are an adult by providing a valid credit card number if you have not already done so. There is no charge for using this service.

    They now consider me a child, and want my credit card number to prove otherwise. Believe it.

    Anyone want to voluteer to be my parent and unlock my account? MS only needs your CC#

  • Fake Info! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by squaretorus ( 459130 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @04:47AM (#3535719) Homepage Journal
    Does ANYONE on here set up Hotmail accounts using genuine information? I thought ALL Hotmail accounts, apart maybe from those set up by grannies, were using fake details.

    How hard is it to find a zip code!

    Would you ever knowingly provide Bill with your details?
  • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @04:59AM (#3535752) Homepage Journal
    wrong wrong wrong

    The worst part about IE being sloppy in what it accepts is that HTML authors who preview their page don't even get to find out that something is wrong.

    damn that does kill the doctrine
    "be generous in the data you accept but strict on the data you hand out"

    It should be an option in IE to report all non-conforming HTML

  • by mixbsd ( 574131 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @06:06AM (#3535876)
    That's a very good point, however if Hotmail's servers are in the US or M$'s Hotmail division is not registered in the UK, then I doubt our DPA laws can touch 'em.
  • by peddrenth ( 575761 ) on Friday May 17, 2002 @07:35AM (#3536053) Homepage
    Are there ANY decent webmail sites left out there anymore that don't charge for basic services like automatic forwarding?

    ...and how easy is it to set one up for those of us who own our own domain?

    I've given out a couple of email addresses on my domain to family, but there's still no way they can configure passwords on their own. I saw a package which lets you run a yahoo-like web email service (skinnable interface, optional POP collection, etc) but that's £500 (and obviously I can't run it on a size-limited hosted webserver)

    Plenty of us have got domains we can use, the question is whether it's possible (or easy) to use them for limited web-based email accounts.

"Paul Lynde to block..." -- a contestant on "Hollywood Squares"