Sponsored by the World Wide Web Consortium, P3P (Platform for Privacy Preferences Project) is a framework for products and practices that will let World Wide Web users control the amount of personal information they share with Web sites. It's described as a "privacy on the Internet assistant." Using a P3P application, a user can enter personal information once and not have to repeatedly reenter it at different Web sites. The P3P application can inform a user (or a programmed agent that is operating for the user) of a Web site's practices with regard to gathering and reusing its visitors' personal information. Users will be able to define the information that a specific site can be provided or not provided.
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P3P is related to and encompasses the Open Profiling Standard (OPS) proposed by Netscape Communications (now part of America Online). It also considers Microsoft's formal proposal for privacy and profiling on the Web. P3P defines a vocabulary and a standard data format for expressing personal information within the W3C's Resource Definition Framework (RDF), which uses the syntax of the Extensible Markup Language (XML). P3P will not necessarily replace the use of cookie (individual files that a Web site puts on the user's own hard disk to keep track of interaction). However, it may change the way that cookies are used.
The P3P Recommendations are to be formally released sometime during 1999. However, much work has been completed and is available at the W3C Web site. Companies that have worked on or contributed to P3P include AT&T Labs, Center for Democracy and Technology, Digital Equipment Corporation, DISA, DoubleClick, Engage Technologies, Ernst & Young LLP, Firefly Network Inc, IBM, Intermind Corporation, MatchLogic, Microsoft, MIT, Narrowline, NEC, Netscape Communications, Open Market Inc., Open Sesame, Oracle Corporation, Sony, The DMA, TRUSTe, and VeriSign.