Feeds

Microsoft's Passport service: No Marylanders allowed?

Newsforge spots conflict of interest

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

Passport is Microsoft's online wallet service, to which you're supposed to sign in once and shop online feeling all secure forever after.

Except, perhaps, in Maryland, where the local version of the UCITA law, which Microsoft itself worked to pass, conflicts with Passport's terms of use so heavily that Maryland residents are apparently not eligible to use Passport.

Passport's terms of use say, in small part:

This agreement is governed by the laws of the State of Washington, U.S.A. You hereby irrevocably consent to the exclusive jurisdiction and venue of courts in King County, Washington, U.S.A. in all disputes arising out of or relating to the use of the Passport Web Site or service. Use of the Passport Web Site and service is unauthorized in any jurisdiction that does not give effect to all provisions of these terms and conditions, including without limitation this paragraph.

(The above passage is under "general" in Passport's 2,212-word terms-of-use agreement, for those of you actually checking my accuracy.)

What's that mean? Basically, if you want to sue Microsoft because its self-proclaimed "powerful online security technology" allowed some script kiddie in a formerly communist country to access your credit card number, or Microsoft wants to sue you for misusing the service, you have to play ball on Microsoft's home turf. (You Passport fans in Australia or Luxembourg or south Florida, for that matter, may want to think about that scenario before you sign up.)

It also appears that Microsoft is attempting to bar residents of Maryland and, potentially, other states considering the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act from using Passport with this sentence in the terms-of-use agreement: "Use of the Passport Web Site and service is unauthorized in any jurisdiction that does not give effect to all provisions of these terms and conditions, including without limitation this paragraph."

Maryland's much-maligned UCITA, which is slightly different from the version originally proposed, gives its state courts jurisdiction over software licensing issues for Maryland residents and companies. (Here's the text of Maryland's UCITA, but it's in rich text [rtf] format.)

Of course, UCITA also binds consumers to the software license agreements they sign, so it would seem that Maryland's UCITA would contradict itself in this case -- by giving Maryland courts jurisdiction over software disputes at the same time it ties the user to an agreement to use courts in King County, Wash.

Maryland Delegate Kumar Barve, a sponsor of UCITA and chairman of the House Subcommittee on Science and Technology, says Microsoft may be on the losing end in a fight between its terms of use and UCITA. When a state government creates consumer protection laws, that law trumps individual agreements such as Passport's. Maryland's UCITA doesn't change that practice of which state's law would be followed in such a case -- what it does affect is the venue.

So in the case of a Marylander suing Microsoft over Passport, a Maryland judge would decide where the case was tried. If Microsoft was a tiny little company that didn't have much of a business presence in Maryland, it might persuade a judge to allow it to defend itself back home in Redmond. But most judges, Barve says, are likely to decide that Microsoft does have a "significant business presence" in the state, and therefore, would likely make Microsoft's lawyers take the long airplane ride into BWI.

Of course, Microsoft could always challenge Maryland's UCITA. We wouldn't dare to encourage frivolous lawsuits, but it might be kind of fun to observe a slugfest between the boys from Redmond and the folks that brought us the distasteful UCITA -- including Microsoft itself.

© Newsforge.com. All rights reserved.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cloudy CoreOS Linux distro declares itself production-ready
Lightweight, container-happy Linux gets first Stable release
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.