Personal Information, Privacy, and the Web

Rob Barrett, IBM Almaden Research Center

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University March 12, 1999


Personal information is of increasing value in both the physical and virtual worlds. Businesses are willing to give away software, deliver customized web sites, and offer grocery discounts in exchange for people's names, addresses, phone numbers, hobbies, shopping patterns and so on. Software agents are also growing in their abilities to act on behalf of users -- especially if they have access to the users' personal information. But along with the growing benefits of revealing personal information is the increasing risk of such information being misused. This talk will introduce the concepts of information privacy, describe the P3P draft standard for managing privacy, and propose an approach to making personal information more available while maintaining privacy.

Rob Barrett is a Research Staff Member of the User Ergonomics Research department in the Computer Science function at the Almaden Research Center. He received B.S. degrees in physics and electrical engineering and a M.S. degree in physics from Washington University (St. Louis) in 1987, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in applied physics from Stanford University in 1989 and 1991, respectively. He subsequently joined IBM at the Almaden Research Center, where he has worked on magnetic storage, scanned probe storage, computer pointing devices, information retrieval technologies, and web-based intermediaries.


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