Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft
June 22, 2000
New Technology Is Aimed at Increasing Web Privacy
But Critics Warn of False Sense of Security
By JERI CLAUSING
ASHINGTON -- Major Internet companies and the Web's standard-setting body on Wednesday unveiled some long-awaited technology that would alert computer users before they visited Web sites that collect more personal information than they are willing to share.
Although the new standard, called the Platform for Privacy Preferences, or P3P, was billed as just one step in improving the state of privacy on the Internet, it was immediately denounced by some privacy advocates as a way for companies to avoid increased regulation and a tool that would give consumers a false sense of security.
Still, if the technology proves to be widely accepted by Internet companies and Web sites, it would give consumers a way to more easily control whether and how companies track their Web movements and gather information about them.
"The goal is to give users on the Web more control," said Daniel J. Weitzner, an official with the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, which develops open standards to promote universal Web access and interoperability between Web sites and different technologies.
"Since no one ever verifies that Web sites actually conform to their stated policies," he said, "P3P effectively transforms your browser into a lockbox full of sensitive personal information that can be opened with a publicly available key."