April 16, 2002 8:10 AM PDT

Industry group backs privacy standard

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The World Wide Web Consortium said Tuesday that it is recommending a new standard for privacy online.

The W3C, a Web standards body, has declared the Platform for Privacy Preferences 1.0, or P3P, a W3C recommendation, essentially endorsing the technology as a standard.

P3P, which was developed by the W3C, is designed to help automate privacy decisions online. It allows Internet users to choose what sort of information they will give to Web sites and whether that information can be shared. Web sites in turn prepare a machine-readable report of their privacy practices, which are automatically compared with the surfer's preferences. Internet users would receive alerts if they went to a site whose P3P standards didn't match up with their preferences.

P3P has already been incorporated into several software products, including Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

"Web site privacy policies are good, but understanding privacy policies is better," W3C director Tim Berners-Lee said in a statement. "P3P serves as the keystone to resolving larger issues of both privacy and security on the Web."


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