W3C Technology and Society

Technology & Society Domain

Mission | Activities | Historical

Nearby: People of the T & S Domain.


Working at the intersection of Web technology and public policy, the Technology and Society Domain's goal is to augment existing Web infrastructure with building blocks that assist in addressing critical public policy issues affecting the Web. Our expectation is not to solve policy problems entirely with technology, but we do believe that well-designed technical tools can lead to policy approaches that are more consistent with the way the Web should operate. The Semantic Web is an important component in this endeavor, as it provides the means for various entities to instrument their interactions through formal specifications of vocabularies describing relevant policies, rules and resources. Semantic Web technologies will enable our machines to assist users in exercising more control over their online environment and interactions.


Patent Policy Activity

From the introduction of the Patent Policy Activity Statement:

The Patent Policy Activity's goal is to enable W3C to implement and successfully operate the W3C Patent Policy. The policy was put into place in February 2004, and the work of developing and implementing it is complete. It is important that the W3C community have an organized way to monitor application of the policy as well as remain informed about relevant developments in the legal and standards environment.

Read more on the Patent Policy Activity home page.

Rigo Wenning is the Activity Lead.

The Activity includes this group:

Payments Activity

From the introduction of the Payments Activity Statement:

The main goal of this activity is to explore how the Web could ease payments on the Web for users (payers) and merchants (payees), and how to establish a common ground for payment service providers on the Web Platform, with a view to identifying work items either in the form of new W3C Working Groups, or specific work that should be done in existing Working Groups.

Payment is an essential element of trade and commerce, and the explosion of e-commerce in the last two decades has led to sales on the Web topping $1 trillion in 2012 . However, behind these impressive numbers, the payment landscape is quickly changing, and new challenges are appearing. For instance, the average shopping cart abandonment rate is 72% across all devices, and 97% on mobile. A variety of factors are limiting the potential of ecommerce, from the high level fraud related to credit card payments, to the fragmentation of payment solutions available on the Web but not available on all merchant sites or on all devices.

In order to address this issue, and for greater interoperability in the area of payments, the vision behind this activity is to enable:

Read more on the Payments Activity home page.

Ian Jacobs is the Activity Lead.

The Activity includes this group:

Privacy Activity

From the introduction of the Privacy Activity Statement:

Privacy remains one of the main activities of the Consortium in the area of social responsibility. Privacy has many different aspects in W3C:

  1. It is a horizontal area as most of W3C's technologies also deal with personal data and thus need to take Privacy into account. Some effort therefore goes into helping other Working Groups like e.g. the Geolocation WG to better address Privacy.
  2. The Tracking Protection Working Group is specifying the Do Not Track Mechanism under high public scrutiny. Within a politically difficult environment, the Working Group managed to make progress according to the plans. Additional pressures from outside stem from a timescale set by Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner for Information Society, and the Federal Trade Commission. While the politically simpler Tracking Preference Expression Specification is now very mature, the Specification on Tracking Compliance and Scope is maturing slowly.
  3. It is a technology area by itself. The Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) was a foundational step and remains relevant as a basis for many of the current cutting edge privacy enhancing technologies. Currently, the Tracking Protection Working Group is chartered to improve user privacy and user control by defining mechanisms for expressing user preferences around Web tracking and for blocking or allowing Web tracking elements. The group seeks to standardize the technology and meaning of Do Not Track, and of Tracking Selection Lists.
  4. Privacy is an area of intense research: For the past 7 years, W3C has participated in EU FP7 research on Privacy. The last project, PrimeLife, had a budget of €11Mio and ended in 2011. In this project, the W3C Team tried to advance in the area of policy languages and social networking. Dave Raggett programmed the Privacy Dashboard, a Firefox Extension now hosted on W3C infrastructure. W3C Team continues to be an actor in the area of privacy research, actively looking for further research funding opportunities.
  5. Out of the combination of standardization and research, W3C has developed a profile for technology transfer. Members actively engage with privacy advocates and researchers in the public-privacy mailing-list that is run by the Privacy Interest Group.

At least since Alan Westin wrote his famous books Privacy and Freedom (1967) and Databanks in a Free Society (1972), Privacy has been a sustained challenge for computer science. Computing provides powerful tools that can be used for the good and for the bad of humankind. W3C has started work on Privacy with P3P and has continued to explore the Privacy challenges since then. The current highlight is the work on Do Not Track. There is no obvious end to the Privacy challenge on the Web. Nearly 10 Years after the completion of the work on P3P, much of the research in the area of privacy, accountability and data handling is still heavily influenced by the P3P 1.0 Recommendation and the P3P 1.1 Working Group Note. Even the Tracking Protection Working Group regularly addresses issues of transparency of data collection that could be solved by P3P rather than by Do Not Track.

The very successful PrimeLife project allowed to explore new technologies like anonymous credentials, new policy languages and how to integrate the value of privacy into Specifications. With the Project's support, we were able to organize many interesting workshops:

It can be concluded that people need a venue for general privacy discussions related to the Web. All attempts to limit the discussion to a specific policy language or a very narrowly focused interest were rather detrimental to the overall quality of discussion and the success of the venue. This is now addressed by the Privacy Interest Group that runs the public-privacy mailing-list.

Read more on the Privacy Activity home page.

Wendy Seltzer is the Activity Lead.

The Activity includes these groups:

Security Activity

From the introduction of the Security Activity Statement:

Web Security is a collaborative effort; W3C coordinates some of that work in its Security Activity, within the Technology & Society Domain. Among the work we are doing to help secure Web applications and Web usage:

The Web Application Security Working Group is developing the Content Security Policy and CSP 1.1; Cross-Origin Resource Sharing; UI Security; Secure Mixed Content; and Lightweight Isolated / Safe Content Recommendations. The goal of this work is to enable secure mash-ups, and to create a more robust Web security environment through light-weight policy expression that meshes with HTML5's built-in security policies. The group additionally aims to address clickjacking issues.

The Web Cryptography Working Group is motivated by the emergence of more complex protocols executed between Web applications. The group is chartered to develop a Recommendation-track document defining an API that enables the development of such protocols. API features will include message confidentiality and authentication services, and exposing trusted cryptographic primitives from the browser. This will promote higher security on the Web as developers will no longer have to create their own or use untrusted third-party libraries for cryptographic primitives.

The Web Security Interest Group serves as a forum for discussion about improving standards and implementations to advance the security of the Web.

The XML Security Working Group produced three W3C Recommendations: a stable interim set of 1.1 specifications. The XML Signature 1.1 and XML Encryption 1.1 specifications clarify and enhance the previous specifications without introducing breaking changes, although they do introduce new algorithms. XML Signature Properties outlines the syntax and processing rules and an associated namespace for properties to be used in XML Signatures.

Read more on the Security Activity home page.

Wendy Seltzer is the Activity Lead.

The Activity includes these groups:

Social Activity

From the introduction of the Social Activity Statement:

Read more on the Social Activity home page.

Harry Halpin is the Activity Lead.

The Activity includes these groups:

Historical News Items

Wendy Seltzer, Technology and Society Domain Lead

Last modified by $Author: sysbot $ on $Date: 2015/07/23 09:15:54 $