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Web Security, Privacy & Commerce, 2nd Edition by Gene Spafford, Simson Garfinkel

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Appendix C. P3P: The Platform for Privacy Preferences Project

This appendix was contributed by Lorrie Cranor of AT&T Labs—Research. It is copyright AT&T and reprinted with permission.

The Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P), introduced in Chapter 24, provides a standard way for web sites to communicate about their data practices. Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), P3P includes a machine-readable privacy policy syntax as well as a simple protocol that web browsers and other user agent tools can use to fetch P3P privacy policies automatically. P3P-enabled browsers can allow users to do selective cookie blocking based on site privacy policies, as well as to get a quick “snapshot” of a site’s privacy policies.

This appendix provides an overview of how P3P works and how you can obtain and use it. For more information about P3P, see http://www.w3.org/P3P/. That site includes pointers to the complete P3P specification, lists of P3P software and P3P-enabled web sites, and more detailed instructions for using P3P on your web site. For a complete discussion of P3P and how you can use it to best advantage, see the forthcoming book, P3P, by Lorrie Cranor.

How P3P Works

The P3P specification includes a standard vocabulary for describing a web site’s data practices, a set of base data elements that web sites can refer to in their P3P privacy policies, and a protocol for requesting and transmitting web site privacy policies.

The P3P protocol is a simple extension to the ...

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