European data protection officials said today that they have made Microsoft agree to make "substantial changes" to its .Net Passport, to bring it into line with European Union laws.

The committee of data protection registrars responsible for examining the .Net Passport and its nearest equivalent the Liberty Alliance, said that the changes to Passport will allow users "much more information and choice as to which data they want to provide, and under which conditions these data will be processed by Microsoft or the participating websites".

The changes Microsoft has agreed to make include introducing a prompt box that will appear on screen when users designate themselves as EU residents, summarising key information about privacy policies within the EU, said Microsoft lawyer, Peter Fleischer

It also agreed to provide EU users with a link to the European Commission's website on data protection laws outside the EU, and increased options enabling users to choose the level of information they share with Passport and the participating sites on a site-by-site basis.

Finally, Microsoft agreed to provide easy-to-follow guidance to help users create secure passwords for enhanced online data protection.

The committee did not mention any demands for changes to the Liberty Alliance, an open-source platform with no central identity, which will host companies wanting to work together on the internet, using one common identification and access point to their websites for their customers.

The European Commission, which was at the meeting of national registrars as an observer, welcomed the outcome. "The bottom line is that users' data will now be better protected," said Frits Bolkestein, the commissioner for internal market issues.