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    Infoworld: Privacy problems persist in latest Windows Messenger 2011 beta

    Inforworld reports on privacy problems in the latest beta version (beta means it’s still being tested) of the Windows instant messenger program:

    Microsoft’s cavalier attitude toward privacy in the Windows Live Essentials applications has drawn the ire of many. Several of your users are probably downloading and trying the new beta versions of Windows Live Messenger, Photo Gallery, Mail, Live Sync, and Writer, collectively known as the Windows Live Essentials 2011 beta.

    They might expect that the new privacy setting screen — prominently offering an option to keep their information private — would protect them from Microsoft’s more egregious privacy-busting proclivities. Think again. While some privacy protections have changed and improved, others remain the same. Warn your users.

    Consider this sobering scenario: You and your boss use Windows Live Messenger (or MSN Messenger or Windows Messenger) to keep in touch. One day, you get a job offer from Snidely Whiplash at a competing company across town. You and Snidely have a brief IM conversation, using Messenger. Innocent and private, yes? Well, no.

    The next time your boss logs into Hotmail — not Messenger, mind you, but Hotmail — your boss glances at the initial Hotmail screen and sees that you and Snidely have become “friends.” That’s what the notice says: “Woody Leonhard and Snidely Whiplash are now friends.” […]

    At first blush, the new Wave 4 beta version of Messenger looks like it should block such blatant assaults on your privacy. There’s a screen that appears when you start the beta Messenger inviting you to Set Up Your Privacy Settings. One of the options on that screen says “Private.” There’s an option when you accept an IM invitation to “Limit access this person has.” Even if you tell Messenger, through the Windows Live Essentials privacy settings screen, that you want to keep your account “Private” and you “Limit access” to new people on your IM list, your information still gets displayed on other contact’s Hotmail Today screen.

    And your boss can quite innocently see that you’re now friends with Snidely Whiplash.

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