Why implement P3P?
The privacy of an individual's personal data is one of the top concerns of Web users, government, and the media. Opinion surveys consistently show that these concerns about privacy are a leading impediment to the further growth of Web-based commerce. While initial efforts by Web sites to publicly disclose their privacy policies have had some impact, these policies are often difficult for users to locate and understand, too lengthy to read, and change frequently without notice.
While most of the information-gathering done online is for legitimate reasons, such as e-commerce, financial transactions, tracking deliveries, or customizing Web sites. These functions allow the Web to provide many of the services that make it such a vital tool. Unfortunately, technology has also made it easier to gather and share information surreptitiously, without the user's knowledge or consent. The small segment of Internet sites that do gather information without users' knowledge have caused justifiable concern.
P3P provides builds trust and confidence between Web users and Web sites by creating transparency in the information collection and use process. By allowing users to easily view, understand, and compare the privacy policies of the Web sites they visit, they will be better able to understand, and trust, the actions of those Web sites in collecting information to provide users with the services they desire. It will also help weed out the few bad apples that give everyone else a bad name by allowing Web users to view their information gathering and sharing policies as well. By empowering Web users and earning their trust, Web sites using P3P will build stronger bonds with their visitors and help breakdown one of the main barriers blocking continued growth of e-commerce.
The Need for Swift Adoption
The success of P3P hinges on the timely convergence of three factors:
- the availability of P3P-enabled browsing devices,
- privacy-aware surfers receptive to P3P privacy disclosures, and
- a critical mass of industry Web sites displaying P3P-readable privacy policies
The availability of the P3P-enabled Internet Explorer 6.0 browser is a critical development that Netscape developers may follow. The AT&T Privacy Bird will also introducing P3P plug-in into the browsing experience as well. Consumer polls strongly indicate that users are privacy aware and a recent one indicates that 83 to 91 percent of online users feel that it is important to see privacy statements on Web sites (Harris Interactive, April 2001). Every poll indicates that users will be receptive to P3P-disclosed privacy practices. However, without rapid industry adoption of the P3P protocol, the window of opportunity for P3P success may pass.
A Sample of P3P-compliant Web Sites
P3P-compliant Web sites include:
The World Wide Web Consortium also maintains an updated list of P3P-compliant Web sites.
If your Web site is P3P compliant and is not on either list, please email P3Ptoolbox.
For additional resources, please check the Implementor Tools section.