TRUSTe Launches Icon-based Privacy Initiative

To help consumers better understand how Web sites use their personal information, TRUSTe has launched a new initiative called the Privacy Symbols and Labels Initiative. TRUSTe also hopes to expand its privacy protections beyond the Internet to other electronic devices, such as cell phones and Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs), that are capable of gathering personal information.

The initiative involves the use of icons (symbols and labels) to define a company's Web site's privacy policy, and lets users know that a third party (TRUSTe) monitors the Web site to ensure that the site adheres to TRUSTe standards. TRUSTe said such icons can help mobile-device users by eliminating the need to download lengthy written privacy statements. In addition, the icons can help users quickly determine whether a Web site lets the user opt in or opt out of personal information collection and Web-usage tracking. TRUSTe aims to develop a privacy label similar to the nutritional facts labeling for food products that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses.

TRUSTe is calling on industry, government, and privacy advocacy groups to form a coalition around the new initiatives—an approach that TRUSTe says makes the most sense. "Four years ago, TRUSTe began the movement toward informed consent with a challenge to industry: Create transparent business practices that give people control over their privacy," said Lori Fena, co-founder and chairman of TRUSTe's board of directors. "Internet companies have made significant headway in meeting this challenge; however, in today's increasingly networked environment, it is time to re-new our challenge. We invite all organizations to join us in our efforts to build trust by allowing consumers to know at-a-glance what is happening to their data and to better understand privacy practices, not only on the Web, but wherever they exchange information.

TAGS: Security
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