Calling all geeks

日期:2019-03-08 04:15:02 作者:姬胛槊 阅读:

By Kurt Kleiner in Washington DC INTERNET aficionados are being asked to help overturn a patent that some fear could damage a scheme to safeguard privacy on the Web. The non-profit-making World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) last week asked volunteers to seek out any information that could invalidate a patent recently issued to a company called Intermind. The patent would give the company control of some techniques the W3C wants to use in a privacy protection scheme. “Our goal is to make sure the collaborative work the coalition does remains free. If we can’t do that there’s a real problem with the open standards process,” says Daniel Weitzner, a technology director for the W3C. And it’s a problem that could crop up again as more companies are granted patents on what some see as basic ideas that should be free for everyone to use. The conflict between Intermind and the W3C is related to a standard called the Platform for Privacy Preferences Project (P3P). Essentially, this is code that would be included in every website, explaining what user information the site will gather and how it will be used and distributed. Web browsers would read the P3P code automatically, and either alert the user to the policy, or obey preset instructions, such as not giving personal information to any site that doesn’t agree to keep it private. But Intermind was recently granted a patent on this basic idea of using “intelligent agents” to make decisions based on “metadata”—data about data—such as the website privacy tags proposed by the W3C. These are similar because when your browser comes across P3P data, it will have to make a decision about what personal information to send to that Web server—in effect acting like an intelligent agent. Critics say Intermind’s patent is far too broad, encroaching on many areas. Intermind is actually a member of the W3C, and says it may be willing to allow free use of the idea to protect privacy. But the company defends its right to charge licensing fees from anyone else using the idea for other purposes. W3C is asking people to help it sink the patent by searching for “prior art”—examples where the approach was used before Intermind applied for its patent in 1996—and submit the information by going to its website at http: