Dave Morgan, president and chief executive officer of audience measurement company Tacoda Systems, is warning online publishers that the P3P protocol that was theory two years ago is fast becoming reality today.
About two years ago, Microsoft announced that newer versions of its Internet Explorer browsers – the beta version 5.5 and full-release 6.0 – would include a privacy tool that would limit the ability of third parties to send and receive cookies. The P3P protocol was designed to maximize the Web user’s privacy by allowing them to choose their level of protection, from low to high. The browser’s default was medium.
And this is particularly unsettling for publishers because they’ll send a cookie but won’t know that it’s been rejected. “All they know is they sent a cookie down. They don’t know it wasn’t received,” said Morgan.
“It’s been known for some time that the new browsers were going to do this, with the privacy management tool turned on at the medium setting,” Morgan said.
Michael Zimbalist, executive director of the Online Publishers Association, said the P3P concerns are valid but many of the larger sites are already aware of it and are taking steps to prevent it.
“Sites do need to take certain things into consideration,” he said. How much of a problem it is depends on the complexity of the website.
“Most publishers are getting on top of it,” he said.
Morgan said those at greatest risk are the publishers who are under-resourced, because they won’t be able to manage the complication. But he said everyone should be aware that privacy issues will only get more complicated.
“I see it as a small- to medium-size problem that’s very manageable today. But this is probably the precursor to a number of similar issues that will be bigger in the future,” Morgan said.