World Wide Web Consortium Announces Completion of P3P Project Phase One

Industry Leaders Collaborate to Ensure User Privacy Concerns are Respected on the Web

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CAMBRIDGE, MASS, USA -- October 30, 1997 -- The World Wide Web Consortium [W3C] today announced the first public results from the Platform for Privacy Preferences Project [P3P], which helps ensure users' privacy concerns are respected on the Web. Two working drafts, Architectural Overview, and Grammatical Model, are the result of the initial P3P working groups. Key industry players, including Art Technology Group, AT&T Labs, Bellcore, Center for Democracy and Technology, Digital Equipment Corporation, DISA, DoubleClick, Engage Technologies, Ernst & Young LLP, Firefly Network, IBM, Intermind Corporation, MatchLogic, MCI Communications, Microsoft, MIT, Narrowline, NEC, Netscape Communications, Open Market, Open Sesame, Oracle Corporation, Sony, The DMA, TRUSTe, U.C. Irvine, and VeriSign are participating in the W3C P3P Working Groups.

"The successful completion of this phase of P3P proves once again the industry's continued spirit of cooperation and commitment to ensuring an environment of trust online," said Saul Klein, Senior Vice President of Brand and Strategy at Firefly. "Firefly has always worked with industry leaders to protect the privacy of individuals and businesses. We are pleased to be an integral part of making these sorts of privacy assurances standard across the Internet."

Susan Scott, TRUSTe Executive Director, stated, "We are very encouraged by the progress of the project. P3P and TRUSTe are synergistic in that both promote online privacy disclosure. User confidence in the Web is increased by the complementary relationship of technical and marketplace solutions."

Platform for Privacy Preferences

P3P enables sites to declare their privacy practices in a way that is understandable to the user's browser. The practices are embedded within the Web site and users can rely upon their browsers to ensure their privacy concerns are respected. "P3P is a privacy 'helper', ensuring a site's practices are acceptable to the user, and that if there is any exchange of data, that the exchange is secure, under the user's control, and in keeping with the stated practices," said Philip DesAutels, W3C P3P Project Manager.

Dr. Steven Lucas of MatchLogic commented, "P3P shows how successful collaborative work at the W3C can be. It is critical for consumers to feel secure and comfortable about their privacy while online. P3P is one of the major efforts to address this concern through a self-regulatory approach."

The Architecture and  Grammar Drafts represent a significant step towards completing a set of specifications that will help ensure users' privacy concerns are respected on the Web.

Expanded Efforts

The W3C has recently acknowledged a related submission from the Internet Privacy Working Group [IPWG]. Submitted by the Center for Democracy and Technology [CDT] on behalf of the Internet Privacy Working Group, the IPWG Vocabulary Submission is a set of practices that the authors felt were suitable for inclusion in P3P. "The submission defines a set of privacy practices that are relevant to the Web. For instance, that data is used for system administration, for the purposes of a transaction, or for customizing a site," explained Deirdre Mulligan of the CDT.

Future Directions

The next phase of the P3P Working Groups will specify the communication protocols for sending P3P requests and practices across the Web. "Rapid completion of this phase is critical for implementors who want to deploy this much needed technology", says Melissa Dunn, of Microsoft Research. In addition, the newly-formed Vocabulary Harmonization Group will examine Web practices such as the IPWG submission in the context of global privacy guidelines. "We are soliciting a lot of external participation in the Harmonization Group to ensure that the Web development community, users, and policy makers are comfortable with the language that we craft for making privacy statements," stated Joseph Reagle, W3C Policy Analyst. "It has to be globally useful and easy to understand. Fortunately, these communities understand the importance of this work, and are eager to work with us."

The P3P Project aims to issue its complete set of Recommendations in the first half of 1998.

For more information on the Platform for Privacy Preferences Project, please see .

Previous P3P Press Releases: W3C Announces the P3P Project at FTC Workshop

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to develop common protocols that enhance the interoperability and promote the evolution of the World Wide Web. It is an industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science [LCS] in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control [INRIA] in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web for developers and users; reference code implementations to embody and promote standards; and various prototype and sample applications to demonstrate use of new technology. To date, over 215 organizations are Members of the Consortium.

For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see