Commission plans no action over Passport

The Commerce Commission does not intend, at least for the present, to investigate suggestions that Windows XP may put Microsoft in breach of the Commerce Act.

The Commerce Commission does not intend, at least for the present, to investigate suggestions that Windows XP may put Microsoft in breach of the Commerce Act.

Auckland lawyer Averill Parkinson, a Computerworld columnist, queries whether Microsoft might be abusing and extending its dominant position in the market with Passport, an online authentication mechanism bundled with Windows XP.

Commerce Commission spokesman Guy Launder says the commission has decided not to add a New Zealand investigation to the prolonged court proceedings already going on in the US on Microsoft’s alleged abuse of market dominance. It would not be a good use of New Zealand taxpayers' money, he suggests, for the commission to pursue an overlapping investigation here.

Parkinson's concern centres on a breach of section 36 of the act.

The commission "obviously" doesn’t investigate every complaint that comes to its attention, Launder says. It uses “a variety of criteria” to judge which actions to pursue – one being the degree to which the alleged breach specifically affects New Zealanders and New Zealand companies.

“What Microsoft is allegedly doing is happening around the world,” he says. “If it is anticompetitive here, it is likely to breach competition law in the US and other jurisdictions too.”

He does not know of any specific anti-competitive action on Passport being attempted in other jurisdictions, but the broader case on Microsoft’s competitive position, if and when it comes to a conclusion, would probably give some guidelines to Microsoft on the legality of the way it has implemented Passport. If this did breach competition law then Microsoft would doubtless amend its practices, he says.

At Computerworld's deadline, Parkinson and colleagues at law firm Clendon Feeney were still examining additional material sent to them by Microsoft, in an attempt to show it is not violating competition law or privacy principles with Passport.

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