Feed Access Control Standard for RSS and ATOM

As we’ve seen more types of information get syndicated, and as feeds are becoming used for multiple purposes, we’ve been growing concerned about the lack of controls on the distribution of personal data, especially through RSS. For example, you may want to allow your friends and family to subscribe to your blog but you’d prefer your posts not show up in search results.

Along these lines, we recently offered a new way to claim your own feeds and indicate whether you want your feed included or excluded from Blog & Feed search on Ask.com and Bloglines (for more information, read the blog post announcing our Publisher Tools). But this method only solves the issue at Bloglines and Ask.com, and it doesn’t address user-created (as opposed to publisher-created) feeds, like flickr feeds, which can’t be claimed. Clearly, there is a need for an industry-wide solution.

As a result, we are proposing (and have implemented) an RSS and ATOM extension that allows publishers to indicate the distribution restrictions of a feed. Setting the access restriction to ‘deny’ will indicate the feed should not be re-distributed. In Bloglines, we’ll use this to prevent the display of the feed information or posts in search results or any other public venue. If other readers and aggregators use the information in the same way, and publishers of feeds,including services that let users create feeds, implement this standard, we could make significant progress toward making feeds truly safe for non-public information. We think that’s a pretty cool idea.

For technical details on the RSS and ATOM extension, refer to this document:

http://www.bloglines.com/about/specs/fac-1.0

If you’d like to participate in discussions about this proposed standard, join the rss-dev group and/orthe atom-syntax mailing list.

You may also ask your provider to contact us if they have any questions.

-The Bloglines Team

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