Microsoft Announces First Products and Services Based on W3C Privacy Standard

REDMOND, Wash., July 1, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced broad product support for the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3), the project to which the Open Profiling Standard (OPS) has been submitted. The P3 group, whose members include Microsoft, Netscape Communications Corp., Firefly Network Inc., IBM Corp. and other industry contributors, is driving the cooperative industry effort to incorporate the OPS proposal, W3C meta-data work and other member contributions to deliver a set of specifications for safeguarding user privacy on the Internet.

Microsoft plans to deliver support for the P3 architecture in its client, server and interactive media products, including the upcoming Microsoft® Internet Explorer 4.0 Web browser, in future releases of Microsoft Site Server and Windows NT® Active Directory, and in Microsoft’s Web content and services sites: MSNBC, the Sidewalk
city guides, Expedia
travel service, CarPoint
online automotive service, Investor, The Internet Gaming Zone, MSN
, The Microsoft Network, and the Microsoft Web site. The P3-based features in these products will allow users to easily control and manage the personal information they exchange with Internet and intranet sites while enabling more personalized information and services.

“We are excited that Microsoft supports the W3C’s leadership of standards for Web privacy,” said Philip A. DesAutels, project manager, W3C. “The W3C is coordinating efforts from Microsoft, Netscape, FireFly, IBM and other P3 project members to develop a common specification for privacy, with input from other organizations (such as the Internet Privacy Working Group) and governments.”

“Safeguarding customer privacy is a priority for Microsoft,” said Paul Maritz, group vice president, platforms and applications group at Microsoft. “We’re leading the charge to offer safe, secure solutions for delivering personalized Web information and services. By moving quickly to implement the P3 architecture in our client, server and content products, we’re helping users maintain control over their data while fostering the growth of a more personalized Internet.”

“Firefly is delighted to be working with Microsoft and other leading companies to deliver standards-based profile management and personalization technologies,” said Nick Grouf, CEO, Firefly Network Inc. “Working together to build upon the Open Profiling Standard within the P3 group demonstrates a significant step toward establishing a trusted environment for electronic commerce.”

The Client: Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0

Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0, scheduled for release this summer, will deliver standards-based protection of consumers’ personal information on the Internet. By supporting the P3 architecture, the new Profile Assistant feature in Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 will give users the option of providing personal information to Web sites and assist them in managing what data is provided to or withheld from a particular site. The Profile Assistant will notify users when a site requests data and offer users the option to give this data to the Web site or not. Users will also be able to encrypt personal information exchanged through the Profile Assistant, both while the data is being stored locally and when it is being transmitted to Web sites.

The Server: Microsoft Site Server and Active Directory

Site Server enables customers to deliver personalized content to Web site visitors based on individual preferences and profiles. The Personalization feature in Site Server is designed to make it easy to collect, store, retrieve and display visitor information. Microsoft has been a leader in Web site personalization technologies, and the P3 architecture represents an important step forward in the evolution of personalization. Future releases of Site Server are expected to incorporate support for P3, making this standard available to a broad range of customers who are deploying rich intranet and Internet sites.

Active Directory, the upcoming LDAP-based directory for the Windows NT Server network operating system version 5.0, is also one of the key server technologies that will incorporate support for the P3 architecture. Active Directory makes it possible for corporate administrators to centralize employees’ personal profile information on an LDAP server, making this information easier to manage and control. By having the user’s profile information stored in Active Directory, administrators can ensure the accuracy of the information while maintaining control over the release of any, all or none of the profile data to privacy-enabled Web sites. Microsoft’s Active Directory server will integrate tightly with the privacy support in Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Content and Services: Enhanced Personalized Content and Services From Microsoft

Microsoft currently offers customers personalized information and services on Web sites such as MSNBC, Sidewalk, Expedia, CarPoint, Investor, The Internet Gaming Zone, MSN and the Microsoft Web site. Implementing the P3 architecture will enhance the ability of Microsoft’s online content sites and services to offer customers highly personalized services while safeguarding user control of personal information. The W3C’s Platform for Privacy Preferences project will also make it possible for customers to safely enjoy a cohesive personalized experience across multiple Microsoft-sponsored sites.

“Ensuring informed consent and trusted information exchange is a huge win for customers and for Web sites,” said Pete Higgins, group vice president, interactive media group at Microsoft. “In the coming months, customers can expect Microsoft Web sites such as MSN and Microsoft Expedia to deliver compelling, personalized services that protect personal privacy using the P3 architecture. Our sites’ P3 support, in conjunction with the P3-based Profile Assistant in Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0, will make it easier for customers to safely and efficiently manage their personal information while taking greater advantage of the information and services available to them on the Web.”

The Proposed W3C Platform for Privacy Preferences

The proposed W3C Platform for Privacy Preferences enables Web sites to deliver on a huge and untapped potential of the Web: allowing businesses to create personalized service to each of their customers, while also respecting their customers’ privacy. The W3C will lead the development of the privacy specification in the P3 project incorporating the OPS proposal and other member contributions. The benefits of implementing the P3 architecture include the following:

  • For users: More personalized experiences and community interactions will provide content and services customized for the users’ preferences. Control over the disclosure of any and all information is put where it belongs – in the hands of users. Protection of information is improved through encryption technology and offers convenience by providing a standard way to keep and maintain a single set of information that can be provided to multiple sites.

  • For corporations: Corporations will be able to maintain centralized control over information their users send over the Internet. Personal profile information that is shared can be encrypted, protecting sensitive information.

  • For software and Web developers: Web developers will have a consistent means for building strong customer relationships by targeting information delivery to users. Software developers also benefit because the P3 architecture will provide a single platform for building privacy controls into their applications.

Broad Industry Support

Microsoft announced on June 11, 1997, that it would work with Netscape and Firefly to build upon OPS, a framework with built-in privacy safeguards for the trustworthy exchange of profile information between individuals and Web sites. This unprecedented cooperation will be under the auspices of the P3 project of the W3C to encourage global Web commerce while ensuring user privacy on the Internet. The Platform for Privacy Preferences creates a framework for the trustworthy exchange of information between consenting parties and will facilitate the growth of personal privacy as well as personalized electronic commerce and advertising. OPS has gained widespread support from more than 100 of the world’s leading companies and is now governed by the P3 project in the W3C. Microsoft was a founding member of the Internet Privacy Working Group (IPWG) and joined the recently formed P3 group to drive technology standards for protecting privacy on the Internet.

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