Web Browsing Privacy Threats and Standards

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Information technology advances are making Internet and Web-based system use the common choice in many application domains, ranging from business to health care to scientific collaboration and distance learning. However, adaption is slowed by well-founded concerns about privacy, especially given that data collected about individuals is being combined with information from other sources and analyzed by powerful tools (such as data mining tools) (Anton2005)

Numerous consumer surveys have revealed that computer users are very concerned about their privacy online (Kobsa2007). By publishing privacy profiles, P3P statements and intelligent choice of interface design element companies can increase their customers trust in the company’s privacy policy.

Mozilla Firefox, one of the most popular open source browsers, currently lacks P3P support. The goals of this thesis was to (i) identify Web browsing risks, (ii) define requirements for privacy tools, (iii) evaluate existing privacy tools based on these requiremens, and (iv) develop and evaluate a privacy plugin for Mozilla Firefox supporting the P3P standard which is called “Webprivacy” and can be downloaded here.


Information about Webprivacy, its features and how to install it can be found here.


  1. XML User Interface Language - Firefox’s language for developing feature-rich cross platform applications
  2. Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P) Project
  3. P3P 1.0 Implementations
  4. Anton, Annie I. and Bertino, Elisa and Li, Ninghui and Yu, Ting (2007). A roadmap for comprehensive online privacy policy management, Commun. ACM, ACM, pages 109–116, 50(7)
  5. Kobsa, Alfred (2007). Privacy-enhanced personalization, Commun. ACM, ACM, pages 24–33, 50(8)
  6. Jensen, Carlos and Sarkar, Chandan and Jensen, Christian and Potts, Colin (2007). Tracking website data-collection and privacy practices with the iWatch web crawler, SOUPS ‘07: Proceedings of the 3rd symposium on Usable privacy and security, ISBN: 978-1-59593-801-5, ACM, pages 29–40
  7. Ralph Gross and Alessandro Acquisti and H. John Heinz, III (2005). Information revelation and privacy in online social networks, WPES ‘05: Proceedings of the 2005 ACM workshop on Privacy in the electronic society, ISBN: 1-59593-228-3, ACM, pages 71–80 (related and interesting, but not directly relevant)
  8. For more literature please see the thesis itself