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MIT Technology Review

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  • Lorrie Cranor

    Age:
    32

    In high school, the artistic Lorrie Cranor has no interest in a computer career, but today she is chair of the World Wide Web Consortium’s Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P). P3P, a high-profile collection of Internet protocols released in 2002, has been adopted by more than 500 companies and will soon be added to more than 400 U.S. government sites. It allows Web sites to produce machine-readable privacy statements free of legal jargon, and enables browsers to interrogate these privacy policies automatically whenever they access the Web pages. Both the Netscape and Internet Explorer browsers have adopted P3P and take it a step further by blocking third-party cookies- those files Web sites plant on visitors’ hard drives to send back data. Discussion of P3P’s specifications began within the consortium in 1997, and Cranor, a leader in privacy research at AT&T who holds a doctorate of science in engineering and policy, steered representatives from industry, government, and academia toward consensus.