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Table: Does Microsoft Want Too Much Information?

Privacy advocates fear that some of Microsoft's new products and services will give the company the ability to harvest an unprecedented quantity of private data about its customers. A few key areas:


Microsoft's (MSFT) new HailStorm service will help manage people's calendars. A record of that 3 p.m. flight to Pittsburgh will be stored on a Microsoft server--as will the regular Friday session with a therapist.


The new Passport service is a digital wallet, which includes people's addresses and credit card numbers. It's designed to streamline shopping online, but it could eventually allow the company to make a detailed profile of people's buying habits.


A new operating system feature called Smart Tags places a hyperlink on certain words, whether they're on a personal document or a Web page. Windows will keep a record of which links you click on, in effect, a personal profile. Initially, this data will stay on your hard drive. But critics worry it's likely to migrate to a Microsoft server.

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