Microsoft to add Web privacy features to Whistler, IE

Microsoft Corporation announced Wednesday that it will be adding industry-standard Web privacy features to the next version of Windows (code-named Whistler) and future versions of Internet Explorer (IE). Microsoft says that it will support the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) in Whistler, making it the first operating system to support the privacy-enabling technology. The company has been working with various companies, government agencies, and privacy advocacy groups to determine the best approach to implementing P3P-based solutions and it has worked closely with the W3C to finalize the specification for P3P.

"As the Internet becomes more and more a part of daily life, we realize it is critical that consumers have the ability to manage and control their personal information online," said Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer. "Our commitment to protecting consumer privacy through technologies based on P3P and other efforts stems from Microsoft's longstanding focus on building technology that empowers the individual."

Microsoft demonstrated three P3P technologies this week, including:

  • Privacy Statement Generator -- An easy-to-use tool based on Microsoft's existing Privacy Wizard that asks Web site operators a series of questions about their privacy policies and automatically generates a P3P-compliant statement expressed in eXtensible Markup Language (XML). This statement can be posted to any Web site and interpreted by any P3P-compatible client.

  • P3P support in Internet Explorer -- Beginning with the release of IE that's bundled with Whistler--expected to be IE 6.0--IE will become a P3P-compatible client application.

  • P3P-comaptbile Microsoft Privacy Statement -- An XML-based privacy statement that allows Microsoft's existing privacy statement to be read by any P3P-compatible client.
"We commend the W3C, AT&T and the other participating organizations with whom we've worked on the P3P specification to provide consumers with greater privacy online," said Richard Purcell, the director of corporate privacy at Microsoft. "The P3P effort is a great example of how the industry, working alongside the many organizations that have a vested interest in privacy, can work toward developing technology-based solutions that are based on the Fair Information Principles.
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