WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11, 1997 — Firefly Network Inc., Netscape Communications Corp. and Microsoft Corp. today announced that they are cooperating to build upon the previously proposed Open Profiling Standard (OPS), which provides a framework with built-in privacy safeguards for the trusted exchange of profile information between individuals and Web sites. This announcement marks a unique moment when technology and business differences have been put aside to coordinate support for a proposed standard that places particular emphasis on individuals’ rights to privacy, while creating a context for personalized network experiences and the building of community online.
Firefly, Netscape, Microsoft and VeriSign will work together on the OPS proposal during the remainder of the standards review process of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). “We’re delighted that Microsoft, Netscape and Firefly have chosen to work together with our staff and our other member organizations,” said Jim Miller, leader of the technology and society domain of the World Wide Web Consortium. “The industry must address the legitimate privacy concerns of Internet users. The W3C P3 Project will ensure that all vendors can implement privacy protection in a consistent way that also respects international requirements.” Further information about the OPS specification is located at the following site ( http://www.firefly.net/OPS/index.html ).
OPS Supported as Global Standard
OPS is a proposed global standard that creates a framework for the trusted exchange of information between consenting parties, which will facilitate the growth of personal privacy, as well as personalized electronic commerce and advertising.
In less than two weeks, OPS has gained widespread support from more than 100 of the world’s leading companies; additional companies joining in support of OPS today include Activerse, Agency.com, Amulet, Andromedia, Aptex, Art Technology Group, Astrology.net, Big Yellow, CAE Plus, CDNow, CLIQNOW!, Collegescape, Concrete Media, Cyber Dialogue, Fallon McElligott, First Floor, Flycast, Geocities, GIST Communications, I Traffic, iChat, iVillage, Kirshenbaum Bond and Partners, Link Exchange, McMahon & Partners, MicroMass Communications, MoneyClub, Net Genesis, Net Shepherd, Nutec, Parable, Real Media, ServerCast, Spot Media, Starwave Corporation, Strategic Interactive Group, The Palace, TwoWay Media, Inc. and Wunderman Cato Johnson.
The overwhelming support for this proposal demonstrates that both companies and public interest groups are in firm agreement that people should not only be aware of their right to privacy online, but can and should have control over the exchange of their information.
“OPS is a critical first step towards building parameters for consumer privacy protection online and necessary to ensure the growth of online commerce,” said Susan Scott, executive director of TRUSTe. “The fact that Firefly, Netscape and Microsoft are working together adds significant support to the effort to formulate a single standard for online privacy. TRUSTe looks forward to working with all three companies in fostering online environments where consumer’s privacy rights will be protected.”
Guiding Principles of OPS
The design of OPS is motivated by three guiding principles for the trusted exchange of profile information. These principles are intended to protect the interests of end users and of any party whose potentially sensitive and proprietary data is to be exchanged.
Informed Consent: Anyone requesting a person’s information must receive the informed consent of that individual before being allowed to collect or use that information in any manner. The individual must be given complete knowledge as to how the information will be used and, with that knowledge, have the option of consenting to its usage and exchange. OPS enables both individuals and businesses to keep a record of the information exchange, allowing individuals the assurance that the contract they have established with a business can be accurately audited by an independent third party.
Value Exchange: No party should collect information without offering the individual value in exchange. Adherence to this principle ensures that people’s profiles are not freely taken with no benefit to them.
Control by Source: Access to information is controlled by its source, whether an individual or a business. The parties responsible for creation of any information should rightfully control permission for its dissemination. If the end user creates profile information, then the user has sole control over permission for dissemination.
Benefits to Individuals
OPS offers substantial benefits to Internet users. These include progressively more personalized experiences and community interactions as the personal profile develops over time; personal control over the selective disclosure and sharing of personal information; enhanced protection, through data encryption, from unauthorized access to information; and time saved in avoiding repeat manual entry of duplicate personal registration information at multiple sites.
Benefits to Businesses
OPS also benefits Internet sites, enabling them to offer customers a trusted environment for personalization, community building and information exchange. Based on the deeper understanding of customer needs that OPS makes possible, businesses will be able to offer customers more highly personalized, “one to one” experiences and realize increased advertising and commerce revenue through more efficient customer communications. OPS also enables site developers to work with a single recognized standard, reducing development costs and accelerating time-to-market by avoiding multiple formats.
Benefits to Technology Companies
OPS’ open and extensible technology platform also offers software developers the ability to accelerate product time-to-market schedules. Support for existing Internet standards, including HTTP, SSL, digital certificates and vCard, allows developers to leverage existing expertise and intellectual capital. OPS is supported by leading hardware and software vendors.
Firefly Network Inc., a privately held company based in Cambridge, Mass., is the leading provider of profile management and personalization technologies. For more information about Firefly’s products, visit Firefly’s corporate site http://www.firefly.net .
Netscape Communications Corp. is a leading provider of open software for linking people and information over enterprise networks and the Internet. The company offers a full line of clients, servers, development tools and commercial applications to create a complete platform for next-generation, live online applications. Traded on NASDAQ under the symbol “NSCP,” Netscape Communications is based in Mountain View, Calif.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
Firefly is a trademark of Firefly Network, Inc. Netscape is a trademark of Netscape Communications Corporation, which is registered in the United States and other jurisdictions. Microsoft is either a registered trademark or trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries. Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.