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media:Fw: Web Privacy Standard: It's a Start

From: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>
Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 10:25:46 -0400
To: wai-ig list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Message-id: <016201c1e61b$c4315f40$19e03244@DAVIDPOEHLMAN>

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Poehlman" <poehlman1@COMCAST.NET>
Sent: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 10:23 AM
Subject: Fw: Web Privacy Standard: It's a Start

Web Privacy Standard: It's a Start
Web consortium backs P3P standard, which can automatically check privacy
policy of participating sites.

Brian Sullivan, Computerworld
Tuesday, April 16, 2002

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has given its official blessing to
the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) 1.0 specification, despite
criticism from
some privacy advocates who say the standard does little to protect
consumer privacy.

P3P is designed to allow Web browsers to determine if a site meets
users' privacy expectations. W3C, which worked on the development of
P3P, has officially
endorsed the current version as the standard that Web sites and users
should adopt, said W3C spokesperson Janet Daly.

But some privacy experts scoffed at P3P.

said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the
Electronic Privacy Information Center. "I think it is certainly true
that a lot of well-intentioned, smart people have been working on this
for a long
time. But to make it work for consumers, it has to be easy, effective
and enforceable--three E's for the three P's. As P3P now stands, I don't
think it
passes that test."

Jason Catlett, president of Junkbusters, also criticized P3P.

"P3P is unlikely to cause any material improvement in privacy," he said.

P3P is simple to use: Users can install the technology on their
computers and choose the level of privacy they want. As users surf the
Web, sites that use
P3P indicate to the Web browser what level of privacy protections they
offer. If a Web site doesn't adhere to the level of protection already
chosen by
a user, P3P displays a warning and the user can either override the
protection or move on to a different site.
Stronger Measures Sought

Both Catlett and Rotenberg said P3P doesn't prevent abuses by companies,
and they called for legislation to codify privacy protections.

Daly said the W3C is aware of such criticism but added that P3P is
just one part
of a larger effort to ensure privacy on the Web. Privacy is going to be
built and protected one step at a time, she said, and P3P is one of
those steps.

That sentiment was shared by Ari Schwartz, associate director of the
Center for Democracy and Technology. Schwartz noted that the center has
worked on P3P
in the past.

"This is the
first iteration
of the tools, and I think, from my viewpoint, the tools are much easier
to use than other first-generation tools," Schwartz said.

This iteration of P3P, he said, is aimed at getting companies to build
privacy protection into their Web sites in ways beyond simply posting a
privacy policy that no one can understand.

A number of companies have endorsed P3P and have begun to use it on
their sites, Daly said. She pointed to Fidelity Investments, which has
already posted
its reasons for adopting P3P on its Web site.

Even so, Rotenberg said, many sites have yet to endorse P3P, and he
predicted that users would probably end up disabling it out of
frustration. He said
he also fears that companies could use P3P as a way of fending off
more-meaningful privacy legislation.

For P3P to really protect privacy, it has to be enforceable, Rotenberg

Story copyright 2002
Computerworld Inc.
All rights reserved.

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Received on Wednesday, 17 April 2002 10:26:21 UTC

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