W3C Publishes First Public Working Draft of P3P 1.0

Collaborative Efforts by Key Industry Players and Privacy Experts Promote Web Privacy and Commerce


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Contact America -- Sally Khudairi <khudairi@w3.org>
Contact Europe -- Ned Mitchell <ned@ala.com>
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Contact Asia -- Yumiko Matsubara <matsubara@w3.org>

http://www.w3.org/ -- 19 May, 1998 -- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today announced the first public working draft of the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P)TM specification. P3P applications will enable sites to automatically declare their privacy practices in a way that is understandable to users' browsers. Privacy practices are embedded within the Web site and users can rely upon their client to ensure their privacy concerns are respected. "Browsers that use P3P look out for the user," said Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web. "They can automatically check a Web site's privacy policy, and release information only where it would be acceptable to the user."

Privacy and Commerce

There is a growing concern regarding potential abuses of users' privacy as well as a growing demand for sophisticated content and services on the Web. Users today must grapple with sites that provide little information about privacy practices, repeated requests for the same information, and an extremely coarse control over technology. For example, current implementations of cookies cause privacy concerns (when accepting all cookies), are a hindrance (disabling cookies can cause difficulties at sophisticated sites), or a nuisance (the user must "swat away" numerous dialogue boxes).

Products using P3P will allow users to be informed of site practices, to delegate decisions to their computer when possible, and allow users to tailor their relationship to specific sites. Users will see P3P in action both in the configuration of their client and during their Web browsing. "Our goal with P3P is to create a platform that is advantageous to both privacy and commerce," explained Joseph Reagle, P3P Project Manager. "Many users are willing to provide information, such as what kind of books they like, to a site they are informed about and trust. P3P allows us to move away from non-existent or confusing privacy practices and repetitive forms towards a win-win scenario."

P3P has received a wide range of support. "I welcome this important new tool for privacy protection," said US Vice President Al Gore. "It will empower individuals to maintain control over their personal information while using the World Wide Web."

Interoperable Foundations

Developed by the W3C P3P Syntax, Harmonization, and Protocol Working Groups, which include both W3C Member organizations and invited privacy experts, P3P's descriptive language is aligned with international business practices and privacy guidelines. P3P is based on established W3C specifications, which include HTTP, Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Resource Description Framework (RDF). Future versions will leverage additional W3C technologies such as the Digital Signature Initiative (DSig).

For more information on P3P, see http://www.w3.org/P3P

About the World Wide Web Consortium [W3C]

The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its interoperability. It is an international 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, more than 260 organizations are Members of the Consortium.

For more information about the World Wide Web Consortium, see http://www.w3.org/

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