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Why would my site have problems without a P3P Privacy Policy?
If your website visitors are having difficulty it is probably because the latest browsers have new privacy features that block certain website features if you don’t have a P3P privacy policy. IE6.0 is the first browser to be privacy policy enabled, but it is expected that all browsers and web agents will adopt the standard.

You may have a HTML page that describes your privacy policy or you may not even have a policy. However, the newest browsers check for the machine language policy called the P3P privacy policy. If you don’t have the P3P privacy policy, your site may not be able to work the way it was designed to operate. If your site uses cookies (especially from more than one domain), they may be blocked if you don’t have a P3P privacy policy.

How does P3P work?
A Web site posts a machine-readable (XML) privacy policy describing its privacy practices. The policy describes what information is collected, why, and who will have access to it. The P3P specification is lengthy and requires Webmasters to devote a lot of time to properly develop the policy.

What if I am having difficulty installing the policy?
Send us an email describing the problem and a reference to your domain name and our technical staff will answer in less than 24 hours.

What is a third-party cookie?
A third-party cookie is a cookie that is set by a domain other than your domain. Depending on the security setting of the browser, and whether your site and the third-party site have a privacy policy, these cookies may be blocked. A common use for a third-party cookie would be a shopping cart, banner ad, or a login session.

What is a persistent cookie? A session cookie?
Persistent cookies are cookies with a defined expiration time. They are discarded when they reach their defined expiration time. Cookies that do not have a specified expiration time are regarded as session cookies and are discarded when the browser is closed. In addition, session cookies are not saved to the hard drive.

What are the elements of a P3P privacy policy?

Entity – who you are and how a user can contact you.

Disclosure – where your written, human-readable policy is located on your site.

Assurances – what third party or law insures that you are doing what you say you are
Paramount to your pledge of privacy protection is your ability to respond to disputes from users. P3P allows you to designate one or more resolution methods (customer service, independent organization such as a seal program, court, or applicable law). It is helpful if you have a reference of some sort (URI or certificate) that can be used for verification. You can also specify methods of remedy; one or more from correction of the violation, financial compensation, or a remedy based on the applicable, referenced law.

Data Collection and Purpose – what Data Elements are you collecting and how are you using them.

As a website operator, what should I do to ensure my site does not infringe on the privacy of visitors?
When you collect personally identifiable information (such as physical contact, name, etc.), you should adhere to giving the user the choice when the information can be used in a certain manner. The choice is usually done by giving the user selections to opt-in (requires action to grant consent such as checking a box that is not previously checked) or opt-out (requires action to indicate refusal). The user should be given a choice if 1) you intend to use the information for purposes other than just completing the current action (e.g. you intend to send a monthly newsletter to someone who placed an order on your website) or 2) you are going to share the information with someone else (e.g. a company who will market the user). If you are using the information in either of the two manners, you should allow the user an opt-in or opt-out choice.

How do I view the privacy policy of any site?
In Internet Explorer, on the View menu, click Privacy Report. Double-click the Web site for which you want to view the privacy policy.

How does P3Pwriter select the locations and names for the policy files?
The locations and names of the privacy policy files are critical to ensuring the items can be found by the browser accessing the site. The policy reference is placed in the well-known location (see the P3P specification for the meaning of this term). The default location for the HTML and XML policy files are also the well-known location. The XML policy files also have an internal name that is referenced by the policy reference file. The name really isn’t important but it is important that the name of this file be the same in the reference file and policy file. By default this is set so it will always match.

How does P3P work?
A Web site posts a machine-readable (XML) file describing its privacy practices. The file describes what information is collected, why, and who will have access to it. The P3P specification is lengthy and requires Webmasters to devote a lot of time to properly develop the a working privacy statement.

The posted XML policy contains elements that tell browsers (ie6 is the first to adopt the standard) what types of data are collected on your web site and how you handle the data (i.e. purpose, retention, and recipients of the data). These declarations of your web site policy are compared to the privacy setting on the browser and the user is informed of conflicts and in some cases the browser degrades certain features that may affect how the browser interacts with your web site.

In addition, the policy contains a shortened version of the XML file called a Privacy Compact Policy. The compact policy is required if you don’t want your cookies to be downgraded or blocked by the browser privacy settings.

What are the guidelines for using web-bugs (aka clear gifs or web-beacons)?

  • A Web page that uses a Web bug must display a clearly visible icon on the page.
  • The icon should include the name of the company collecting information from technology and be labeled as a tracking device.
  • The Web bug should be linked to a page disclosing what data is collected, how it’s used, and which companies receive the data.
  • Web visitors must be able to opt out of data collection by Web bugs.
  • Web bugs should not be used to collect sensitive information related to children, medical issues, finances, employment or sex.