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Central Discovery Service

The job of the CDS is quite simple.  It runs on a single well-known domain, and providers a pointer to a user's PDS.  The only user interface required is to get the user's consent to set/modify their PDS on a particular browser.

The following is a summary of the requirements for the CDS:
  • A single global domain is setup, such as cds.com
  • If a user is redirected to cds.com/setpds?dm=<domainname>&continue=<URL destination at domainname> then the cds.com webserver will ask the user "Please confirm you would like all the websites you visit to be able to determine that <Domainname> has your web browsing preferences."
    • If the user says yes, a cookie on cds.com is set with the value of that domainname, and the time at which it was set.
    • If the user already had a PDS set, the question above would be appended with "(Your previously had listed <olddomainname> as the location of your web browsing preferences)"
  • The site will then support cross-site preference lookup techniques by any website to learn the current domainname/time for that browser, and the cds.com server would echo back the values stored in the browser's cookie
  • This service will need to be free, but will get heavy load for the cross-site requests, so we may need a neutral group/company similar to Verisign to run it (though they may in turn outsource the operations to someone like Google/Verisign/Microsoft)
  • The statistics about the service will probably need to be made publicly available (such as usage levels and popularity of different personal discovery services)
  • The CDS only needs to store a single small preference (it fits in a cookie) so it will scale easily.
  • The CDS does not need a login system.

One partial alternative to the CDS is to define a standard URL parameter that can be used to pass a user's PDS.  That way, if one site knows a user's PDS and is redirecting the user to another site, then it could pass that PDS information as a hint.  In particular, a websearch or E-mail provider might learn of (or actually be) a user's PDS, and it could add that URL parameter whenever the user clicked a search result, and ad, or a link in E-mail.