Online Privacy: What are People So Concerned About and What is Being Done About it?

Lorrie Faith Cranor
AT&T Labs-Research

New Web applications are enhancing businesses' abilities to gather data about their online customers that helps them to provide customized services and targeted advertising. By learning more about their customers, online businesses can develop more personal relationships with them, allowing them to better anticipate and meet their customers' needs. However, many of the Web-based data collection systems being deployed raise many privacy concerns. These concerns are gaining increased attention from the news media, the public, and policy makers. In this talk I will discuss the privacy concerns raised by online data collection practices. I will also discuss the efforts to address these concerns through laws, self-regulation, and technology.

One of the technologies I will focus on is the emerging Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) standard being developed by the World Wide Web Consortium. P3P provides a simple, automated way for users to gain more control over the use of personal information on Web sites they visit. P3P-enabled Web sites make statements about how they handle user data available in a standard, machine-readable (XML) format. P3P enabled browsers can "read" these statements automatically and compare them to the consumer's own set of privacy preferences. P3P enhances user control by putting privacy policies where users can find them, in a form users can understand, and, most importantly, enables users to act on what they see.

Lorrie Faith Cranor is a Senior Technical Staff Member in the Secure Systems Research Department at AT&T Labs-Research Shannon Laboratory in Florham Park, New Jersey. She is chair of the Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P) Specification Working Group at the World Wide Web Consortium. Her research has focussed on a variety of areas where technology and policy issues interact, including online privacy, electronic voting, and spam. She served as chair of the Tenth Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy, and is a member of the Federal Trade Commission Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security. For more information, please see her home page at

Date: Thursday, December 14, 2000, 8:00 PM
Location: Auditorium, Sarnoff Corporation, 201 Washington Road (Rt 571 1/4 mile south of US 1), Princeton, NJ

Additional Information: recorded info (609) 924-8704, Dennis Mancl (908) 582-7086, or David Soll (215) 854-3461

A pre-meeting dinner with the speaker is held at 6 p.m. at the Rusty Scupper on Alexander Road in Princeton. If you would like to attend, please RSVP with an e-mail to or call the information number to record your reservation on the answering machine.

Princeton ACM / IEEE Computer Society meeting are open to the public. Students and their parents are welcome. There is no admission charge, and refreshments are served.