No Slam Dunk

By eweek  |  Posted 2001-04-16 Print this article Print

No Slam Dunk

While American Express was one of a handful of partners on hand at Microsoft headquarters last month to show its support for HailStorm — and how customers of its "Blue" card could have access to instant messaging and notification services concerning their account — the company said its enthusiasm for .Net remains just that, for now.

"Were excited about the possibilities of .Net," said Molly Faust, vice president of corporate finance communications at American Express. "Were looking at lots of new and emerging technologies that can deliver benefits to our customers. But we would only deliver those benefits if the privacy and security of our customers is maintained and assured."

Since so many details concerning HailStorm are not yet finalized, "what we showed is the possibility of services we could deliver, not what we will deliver," Faust said.

If Microsofts HailStorm platform didnt meet American Express privacy and security standards, "we wouldnt follow through," she said. "Theyre not standards, theyre requirements . . . When were working with partners and vendors, we need to ensure that their privacy practices are up to our requirements."

Another partner, eBay, said the privacy and security of its customers is also a priority, but it remains confident Microsoft will deliver on its HailStorm promises. The online auction site hopes to use HailStorm services to provide its customers with real-time tracking of their bids without requiring them to be logged on to eBays Web site.

"We have a long history with Microsoft," said eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove, noting that Microsoft operates the front end of eBays auction service. "I think were both on the same page in terms of where eBay wants to be in terms of privacy and security. And our past record with Microsoft . . . is that you always find that where theres a will, theres a way. If the priority and objectives are set, and if the interest in reaching them is high enough, then we will make it work."

Theres certainly a will — Microsoft is betting the company on .Net. As for the way, Microsofts route remains unclear, littered with obstacles, tortuous.

And while company executives say they believe the journey will lead to pots of gold, others hope the trek to .Net becomes so painful and confused that the company strikes out for riches elsewhere.

Microsoft "wants to be like a government," said privacy advocate Jason Catlett, president of Junkbusters. "They want to issue passports and levy tolls and control identity. But they just arent a trustworthy government in the eyes of most people . . . If they want to be the consumer identity broker and toll collector, then privacy and consumer trust are going to be the biggest points of resilience for them."


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