Introducing network.txt: A Standard for 3rd Party Data Transparency

Christoph Miksche
2 min readFeb 8, 2023

In today’s digital age, privacy and data protection have become major concerns for both website visitors and developers. With the introduction of GDPR laws, it’s important for websites to provide clear information about the sharing of personal data with 3rd party providers. This is where the proposed standard, network.txt, comes into play.

What is network.txt?

network.txt is a new standard that provides information about the use of 3rd party providers on a website. It’s a simple text file that is both readable by humans and programs alike. The purpose of network.txt is to offer an easy and standard way for visitors to understand which 3rd party providers are being used on a website and where they can find the privacy policy and terms of the website.

How does network.txt work?

The network.txt file is located in the .well-known directory and provides a clear list of 3rd party providers used on the website. It also includes a link to the privacy policy and terms of the website. Providers that are necessary for the website to function properly should be listed first, followed by optional providers.

Here’s an example of what a network.txt file might look like:

# LINKS

Policy: http://www.example.org/Policies/Privacy
Terms: http://www.example.org/Terms

# THIRD PARTY PROVIDERS

Name: Cloudflare
URL: https://www.cloudflare.com
Use: Necessary
For: DDoS protection

Name: Google Analytics
URL: https://analytics.google.com
Use: Optional
For: Analytics

Why is network.txt needed?

There have been similar initiatives in the past such as P3P and privacy.txt, but network.txt offers a simpler and more accessible solution for both website visitors and developers. It allows visitors to easily understand which 3rd party providers are being used on a website and where they can find the privacy policy and terms, while also helping developers to create new tools for handling GDPR in a more efficient manner.

Conclusion

network.txt is a proposed standard that offers a clear and accessible way for websites to provide information about the use of 3rd party providers and personal data sharing. It’s a simple solution that benefits both website visitors and developers, and helps to increase transparency and privacy in the digital world.

You can find out more about it at the GitHub Repo of the Standard.

--

--

Christoph Miksche

Software Developer and Investor from Germany. Writing about Software, Tech and Investments.