World Wide Web Consortium Issues P3P 1.0 as a W3C Recommandation

P3P gives people more control over use of personal information on the Web

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has issued the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation, representing cross-industry agreement on an XML-based language for expressing Web site privacy policies. Declaring P3P a W3C Recommendation indicates that it is a stable document, contributes to Web interoperability, and has been reviewed by the W3C Membership, who favor its widespread adoption. P3P was designed by a Working Group composed of privacy advocates, Web technology leaders, data protection commissioners, and global ecommerce

“Web site privacy policies are good, but understanding privacy policies is better,” remarked Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director. “P3P serves as the keystone to resolving larger issues of both privacy and security on the Web.”

P3P Helps People Make Informed Choices

The Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P) 1.0, developed by W3C, provides a standard, simple, automated way for users to gain more control over the use of personal information on Web sites they visit.

At its most basic level, P3P is a standardized set of multiple-choice questions, covering all the major aspects of a Web site`s privacy policies. Taken together, the answers present a machine readable version of the site`s privacy policy, a clear snapshot of how a site handles personal information about its users. P3P-enabled Web sites make this information available in a standard, machine-readable format.

P3P enabled browsers can “read” this snapshot automatically and compare it to the consumer`s own set of privacy preferences. P3P enhances user control by putting privacy policies where users can find them, in a form users can understand, and, most importantly, enables users to act on what they see.

“With P3P we are enabling the development of a whole new class of Web tools and services that will help users protect their privacy while streamlining ecommerce transactions,” explained Daniel J. Weitzner, W3C Technology and Society Domain Leader, “The fact that the Web now has a standard language for describing privacy practices will enable a new level of transparency in Web-based interactions. The added facility for dealing with privacy issues will be especially important with mobile and other new forms of Web access.”

P3P Results from International Cooperation

P3P is created through the consensus-based W3C Process. Participants in the development of P3P represent leadership in industry, government, and research. They include; Akamai Technologies; American Express; America Online, Inc.; AT&T; AvenueA; CDT; Charles Schwab Consultants; Doubleclick Inc.; Electronic Network Consortium, Japan; Engage; Ericsson; HP; IBM; IDcide; Independent Center for Privacy Protection Schleswig-Holstein, Germany; Internet Education Foundation; Joint Research Center of the European Commission; Microsoft; NEC; Ontario Office of Information and Privacy; along with invited experts. Many organizations have provided statements of support, some are announcing implementations.

“International representation was key to providing a privacy vocabulary that meets diverse needs and requirements,” explained Rigo Wenning, W3C Privacy Activity Lead. “The Working Group also benefitted from the joint presence of industry, public authorities and academics. The design of P3P takes into account the multitude of privacy frameworks all over the world.”

Next Steps for P3P Focus on Implementation

W3C`s lists of P3P-enabled Web sites and P3P software continue to grow, including both plug-ins and browser-based implementations, P3P policy generators, and a P3P validator.

W3C`s P3P Working Group plans to continue to provide resources and assistance to implementers who wish to make their sites P3P compliant. In addition to the P3P homepage, other useful resources include in cooperation with the Internet Education Foundation, and the JRC P3P demonstration and research platform. W3C continues to maintain discussion fora for implementers and those interested in P3P.

P3P is a registered trademark of the World Wide Web Consortium.

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