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Saturday, June 16, 2001

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Smart Tags

My Federal Trade Commission Complaint

First Name:Alan
Last Name:Herrell
Age Range:40 - 49
Street Address:802 W. Rose Lane
City:Phoenix
State or Canadian Province:Arizona
Country:UNITED STATES
Zip Code or Postal Code:85013
E-Mail Address:webmaster@lemurzone.com
Home Phone:602-995-2602
Work Phone:602-995-2602Ext.
Subject of Your Complaint:Computers/Internet Services
Name of Company You Are Complaining About:Microsoft Corp. Redmond Washington
State or Canadian Province:Washington
Country:UNITED STATES
Company Web Site:http://www.microsoft.com
How Did the Company Initially Contact You?:Internet (Other)
Explain Your Problem:Microsoft Corporations inclusion of their Propriatary Smart Tag technology represents an enormous threat to the internet. It is currently available in the Office XP software package and is embedded in the IE 6 Internet Browser.
Internet Explorer 6.0 is incorporating a new 'feature' called Smart Tags. According to Microsoft this is an 'enhancement' for your browser experience.

"Smart tags are a new feature in Microsoft ® Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft Outlook® 2002 (when Word is enabled as your e-mail editor), and Microsoft Internet Explorer (when Microsoft Office XP or one of the standalone applications mentioned above is installed on your computer) that allows text to be labeled with contextual information while users type."
This so-called contextual information are actually presented in your browser window as purple squiggly underlines (just like the underlining that Microsoft Word uses for spell checking when you are creating documents and it doesn't have the word in it's dictionary, mis-spelled or not) highlighting your content with links to Microsoft and it's partners.

This has two immediate consequences. It fractures the web by placing links on sites you designed without your knowledge or permission. It changes the context of sites you created. In the June 7th story in the Wall Street Journal,
http://public.wsj.com/sn/y/SB991862595554629527.html
New Windows XP Feature Can Re-Edit Others' Sites[8], Walter S. Mossberg said that the XP product would re-edit your site. It will not change your text but it sure as hell will co-opt your sites for someone elses benefit.

This is anti-competitive behaviour and needs to be investigated.

Thank you for your time,
Alan Herrell


Taking back the Web

In the United States the Federal Trade Commission is the Agency responsible for Consumer Protection and a Competitive Marketplace. You can complain here.

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