Web Consortium officially recommends P3P 1.0

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has issued the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) 1.0 as a W3C Recommendation, representing cross-industry agreement on an XML-based language for expressing Web site privacy policies.

The W3C was formed to evaluate, recommend and develop common Internet protocols. It's an international industry consortium jointly run by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT LCS) in the USA, the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) in France and Keio University in Japan. Almost 500 organizations are members of the consortium, including Apple Computer Inc.

P3P was designed by a Working Group of W3C composed of privacy advocates, Web technology leaders, data protection commissioners and global ecommerce companies, according to Tim Berners-Lee, director of the W3C. It's designed to provide a standard, simple, automated way for users to gain more control over the use of personal information on Web sites they visit, he said.

According to W3C info, P3P is, at its most basis level, a standardized set of multiple-choice questions, covering all the major aspects of a Web site's privacy policies. Taken together, the answers present a machine readable version of the site's privacy policy, a clear snapshot of how a site handles personal information about its users.

P3P enabled browsers can "read" this snapshot automatically and compare it to the consumer's own set of privacy preferences. P3P enhances user control by putting privacy policies where users can find them, in a form users can understand, and, most importantly, enables users to act on what they see.

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