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Mastering the Platform for Privacy Preferences: O'Reilly Releases "Web Privacy with P3P"

October 3, 2002

Sebastopol, CA--For as long as there have been commercial sites on the World Wide Web, there has been a clash between the need of web-based businesses to collect information about users and the end user's right to privacy. The Platform for Privacy Preferences Project, or P3P, has emerged as an answer that may satisfy the wishes of both parties. Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium, P3P gives users more control over the amount of information they disclose about themselves as they browse the Web. At the same time, it allows web sites to declare to browsers what sort of information they will request of users. Their privacy policies are embedded in the code of the site, so browsers talk to the web server just below the surface.

O'Reilly's latest release, Web Privacy with P3P by Lorrie Faith Cranor (US $39.95), explains the P3P protocol and shows web site developers how to configure their sites for P3P compliance. Cranor, who is chair of the Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P) Specification Working Group at the World Wide Web Consortium and coauthor of the P3P 1.0 specification, explains the inner workings of the P3P protocol while maintaining a hands-on implementation approach.

The book begins with an introduction to P3P and an overview of online privacy concerns and the laws governing online privacy. Cranor discusses existing privacy technology, such as encryption tools, filters, and identity management tools. Cranor then explains the inner workings of the P3P protocol and shows web developers how to configure their sites for P3P compliance. The book gives step-by-step instructions for creating a P3P policy, compact policy, and policy reference file. The book then shifts to show software developers how to build P3P compliance into their products, with a chapter on PPEL, the W3C-developed specification for declaring user preferences, and a chapter devoted to guidelines for developing user interfaces for P3P user agents.

"This book was written for a broad audience," Cranor says. "I have tried to address a wide range of questions about P3P that I have been asked by web site operators, software developers, policymakers, and individuals concerned about protecting their privacy online. Whether you are interested in deploying P3P on a web site or in a software product, or are just curious about what P3P is and how it works, this book is for you."

The number of web developers using P3P continues to grow. P3P support is now built into the newest browser version, including Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. "Web Privacy with P3P" explains how the P3P features work in these browsers, and the impact they will have on your web site. Anyone interested in privacy issues will make this book an essential addition to their bookshelves.

Additional resources:

Web Privacy with P3P
Lorrie Faith Cranor
ISBN 0-596-00371-4, 321 pages, $39.95 (US), $61.95 (CAN)
1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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