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[FYI] P3P: New Technology Is Aimed at Increasing Web Privacy


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June 22, 2000  

New Technology Is Aimed at Increasing Web Privacy  

But Critics Warn of False Sense of Security  


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 

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.  


Webwasher.com AG, a German privacy software company affiliated with 
Siemens AG, called P3P "too little, too late." P3P will actually 
damage privacy by aggregating personal information and releasing it 
to any Web site with a compliant privacy policy, said Dr. Horst 
Joepen, chief executive of the company that develops privacy 
protection software.  

"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."  


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