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EDITIONS
Friday, 29 November, 2002, 10:28 GMT
Anger as Microsoft hires EU official
Microsoft Windows boxes
Mr Eckert will work on Microsoft computer security
Microsoft has sparked anger among its competitors by hiring an official from the European Commission, in the middle of a European monopoly investigation into the company.

Detlef Eckert is taking three years out from his job working on information technology policy to help Microsoft develop better computer security.

Microsoft told the BBC's World Business Report that Mr Eckert will be working in a business unit which aims to improve the security and reliability of the company's software. They said he will not be involved in any lobbying activity.

But the appointment has concerned the Computer and Communications Industry Association in Washington which represents some of Microsoft's competitors.

It has been lobbying the European Commission to impose an antitrust ruling on the company.

Involvement

Ed Black, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, told the BBC's World Business Report he had met Mr Eckert while putting his case to the Commission.

"We made presentations to him on the subject and told him our sense of Microsoft, of what they were doing, their strategy and our strategy on how to do it, both legal and business strategy," he said.

"He was not within the competition directorate but he was probably in the directorate most closely involved in this case."

The European Commission said Mr Eckert signed a memo and agreed that he will fully comply with conflict of interest rules not to reveal confidential Commission information to Microsoft.

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Ed Black, Computer and Communications Industry Assoc
"He [Mr Eckert] was very knowledgable and very supportive of our point of view"

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