Netscape Communications, makers of the famous Navigator Web browser, is proposing a global standard for sending and receiving personal information across the Internet. The Open Profiling Standard (OPS), as it is called, is an architecture that lets Web sites collection private data from users-- such as interests, hobbies, and more--with their consent so that custom, dynamic sites are possible. Online software retailers, for example, could use this information to display discounted items of interest to the user.

OPS takes "Cookies" to the next level by allowing a Web surfer to store personal information on their hard drive, including their name, address, ZIP code, phone number, E-mail address, age, marital status, interests, and/or passwords. Netscape will submit a draft of the standard to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) this week. It is based on existing Net technologies such as digital certificates. Over 60 companies are supporting the draft, including Sun, Oracle, and Excite. Curiously, Microsoft is not lending their support