Netscape and 60 other organisations, including Lotus and IBM, have agreed on a standard that will give users better control over their personal details on the Web.
Called the Open Profiling Standard (OPS), the specification enables users to control which personal information gets disclosed or withheld from a particular site. Individuals can respond to requests from Web sites for personal information with all, some, or none of the requested data. Users can also be notified of the personal details that are requested by a particular site. Personal information is kept in a file on their hard drive and users decide with which site to exchange the details.
The standard is based on two existing technologies - Vcard and digital certificates. Vcard is a specification managed by the Internet Mail Consortium for 'electronic business cards'; while digital certificates are used to verify Web messages. Digital certificates have been adopted as a standard by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and are expected to become an essential part of electronic commerce.
Christine Varney, commissioner to the Federal Trade Commission, said: ?OPS brings us one step closer to market-based solutions for privacy protection. Consumers will benefit from the ability to make choices about what information they provide to Internet sites and what information is disclosed about them, to whom, when, why and for what purposes.?
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