Privacy groups have asked Congress to investigate Microsoft in the wake of a WSJ investigation of Web tracking and targeting. Led by Center for Digital Democracy, a half-dozen consumer watchdog groups sent letters to heads of relevant Senate and House oversight committees calling for an investigation of Microsoft's decision to require users of its 2008 iteration of Explorer to have to activate a tracking blocker function each time browser was launched. They also point out that Journal story found that 50 Web sites had installed over 3,000 tracking cookies on a computer used to test online tracking.
"We want both Commerce Committees to investigate whether Microsoft failed to create stronger privacy safeguards in order to appease potential ad industry allies in its fight against Google/Doubleclick deal," said Jeff Chester. "Microsoft, it appears, sacrificed consumer privacy in order to boost revenues and take advantage of their $6 billion buy-out of interactive marketing giant aQuantive. However, the main congressional focus should be on whether, as the WSJ charges, "One of the fastest growing businesses on the Internet is the business of spying on Internet users."