Intel plans to stop stamping serial numbers in its processors, starting with its Willamette chip due out later this year, the company reported late last week.
Privacy groups protested last year after Intel announced that it was planning to release Pentium III chips with the so-called processor serial number. The groups said the number could be used to track people's habits as they surfed the internet.
Intel said the number would be used to help IT managers keep track of their computers, but eventually agreed to work with OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to turn the feature off at the manufacturing level.
Consumer groups said then that the presence of the number still left unanswered questions about privacy protection. Those groups have now hailed Intel's decision.
"Certainly, this appears to be a victory for consumers," said Linda Sherry, a spokeswoman for Consumer Action, a San Francisco-based consumer advocacy group. "People want anonymity when they surf the net."
Intel will continue the number in its Pentium III chips, said George Alfs, an Intel spokesman.