Web Privacy Tool to Limit the Amount of Information Given Away

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is currently designing a web privacy tool that will help users control how their personal data is managed and reveal websites which do not honour privacy requests.

The W3C have now reached the stage where they want users, businesses and browser makers to contribute towards the completion of the tool and to implement the specifications, increasing the likelihood of the tool being deemed as success.

Dr Matthias Schunter from IBM who chairs the W3C group drawing up the Do Not Track technologies stated “Users have the feeling they are being tracked and some users have privacy concerns and would like to solve them.”

The group is defining software specifications that will:

  • Let browser settings tell websites to do less tracking
  • Let websites acknowledge privacy requests
  • Define best practices for sites so they can comply with different privacy needs

Dr Schunter stated that their aim in creating this web privacy tool is to end the practice of different browser makers using incompatible Do Not Track Systems and to standardise all of the protocols.

Dr Schunter claimed “Currently websites need to implement all these different protocols, there’s no standard way to respect privacy preferences. We want to standardise all these protocols so they talk the same language and then tell websites what to do with them.”

He later added that the web privacy tools that will be created aim to be “privacy friendly” and limit the amount of data that is given away.

The example that was given was that a site could log a user’s language preference by noting their name and native tongue and store that in a cookie whilst information belonging to regular visitors is stored thorough the use of little text files sites.

Dr Schunter stated that a more secure method would to have browser software which notes the owner’s preferred language which is used and exposes no personal information such as their name.

Another feature of the web privacy tool is that users can be warned about sites that do not respect requests to keep information private and therefore make them re-evaluate the practices.

It is expected that the web privacy tool will be implanted by mid-2012 by browser makers and then adopted by websites soon after.

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