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Windows on privacy

点击量:   时间:2019-03-08 08:05:07

Sixty-billion-dollar man Bill Gates has been slammed pretty hard lately over revelations that his company’s Windows 98 operating system inserts ID numbers into documents created in Word 97 and Excel that could be used to trace their author (www.junkbusters.com/microsoft.html). But now Gates wants you to know that he can actually help protect your privacy rather than compromise it. How so? Well, Microsoft announced earlier this month (www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/1999/apr99/frontierpr.htm) that it will devise a way to give Web browsers access to the privacy policy of websites whose owners decide to reveal that information. This will detail how the webmaster plans to use or disseminate your details. You will then be free to decide whether to reveal personal details to the owner of that page. The plan would work by burying the policy information within the HTML code of the Web page. The basic idea is not new. It’s called the Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P) and it is coordinated by the World Wide Web Consortium—details at www.w3.org/P3P/P3FAQ.html. Not only Microsoft, but also Netscape and a bunch of other big players are already committed to the idea. But much steam was punched out of the drive for a standard when a company called Intermind recently announced that P3P would be covered by patents it has applied for. (Intermind, by the way, gets Netropolitan’s vote for the most pointlessly minimalist website at www.intermind.com/index.htm.) So with the patent disputes likely to get in the way of implementing this technology—and the fact that the whole enterprise depends in any case on the supposed altruism of e-commerce website owners—why exactly is Microsoft making such play of its announcement? Many observers see a PR move designed to associate the words “Microsoft” and “privacy” with the concept “protects”—rather than “invades”. More on these topics: