Zero-Knowledge Knows a Little About P3P
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A week before industry leaders meet in Massachusetts for a workshop on the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) standard, Zero-Knowledge Systems rolled out a tool that enables those responsible for maintaining corporate privacy to test and track their Web site's compliance with P3P in Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer 6.
The Montreal-based security and privacy software maker unveiled P3P Analyzer in a free Beta trial. What is P3P and why the sudden emphasis on it? Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), P3P provides an automated way for users to gain more control over the use of personal information on Web sites they visit.
P3P is basically a set of multiple-choice questions, covering major aspects of a Web site's privacy policies. Taken together, they present a clear snapshot of how a site handles personal information about its users. P3P enabled browsers, such as IE 6, can "read" this snapshot automatically and compare it to the consumer's own set of privacy preferences. Businesses want to make sure their sites comply with P3P because those that don't conform to the IE 6 settings find parts of their sites broken and third party cookies discarded, all of which decreases the usability and value of their sites.
Zero-Knowledge's P3P Analyzer helps the process by scanning the URLs of selected sites to locate P3P Compact Policies and then reporting on their usage and level of compliance with IE 6. Privacy officers can also use the tool to regularly check their site and track updates over time, while benchmarking against other sites of interest.