Building Confidence in Today’s Online Advertising

TRUSTe’s Approach to Behavioral Advertising

Last week’s Commerce Committee hearings on Behavioral Advertising underscored consumer discomfort, the efforts that companies and groups are implementing to improve consumer confidence, and the gap that legislators are trying to close.

As TRUSTe sealholders know, they have long been required to provide users with details of how cookies and other tracking technologies are used on their sites in their privacy policies. We have polled users about their opinions and expectations around Behavioral Advertising. In January, we provided a detailed guide intended to help companies better understand the technologies and business models involved and to lay out the key legal risks. In response to the FTC Staff report on behavioral advertising, we held a webinar to help our sealholders understand the new expectations. We recently joined in an effort by the Future of Privacy Forum to research and test the best behavioral ad notices.

Importantly, of course, we looked at our Web Privacy Seal Program requirements that thousands of sealholders already meet and asked ourselves what changes will need to be made for our sealholders to be compliant with the FTC Guidelines. The good news is that the TRUSTe Web Privacy Seal program requirements are generally consistent with the FTC guidelines. And we believe we can effectively provide our sealholders with the tools to help them close the gap – deliver notice, choice, and dispute resolution outside of the privacy statement.

TRUSTe is in a unique position to help sealholders meet the FTC guidelines:

– TRUSTe already provides guidance to thousands of companies on robust notice and choice

– The TRUSTe brand and icon are highly recognized and trusted by consumers to help protect their personal information

– Our technology platform can scan for 3rd party ads, identify behavioral advertising activities, and monitor a range of compliance issues

– Our advanced dispute resolution services can assist consumers with issues of an opt out, privacy disclosures, and more.

TRUSTe aims to give sealholders confidence that their Behavioral Advertising activities are consistent with the FTC and emerging guidelines. We’ve already met with several dozen stakeholders – from sealholders to advocates and regulators – and the response has been very positive. We also hope to complement other industry efforts to advance best practices in Behavioral Advertising. By working together we can meet the regulatory challenge as well as the expectations of consumers.

Now, its your turn to give us feedback. On Tuesday, June 30 (11am PDT/2pm EDT) we’ll be holding a webinar to provide an overview of our approach. Later in the Summer we will distribute a draft for comment with key elements of the program outlined in more detail. We are also hoping some of you will join in an effort to finalize the program and its requirements.

If you would like to provide additional feedback or attend the webinar, please rsvp for at

Fran Maier, CEO, TRUSTe

TRUSTe applauds new FTC Behavioral Marketing Principles

This month, the Federal Trade Commission issued its highly anticipated staff report on Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, a report that represents important guidance to the online advertising industry at a critical time. At TRUSTe, we address these principles on a daily basis when working with the sites we certify. We want to thank the FTC for recognizing the need for formal guidance surrounding behavioral advertising.

Expectations for data privacy online continue to evolve. On one end, we encourage companies to aim for a creative and engaging online experience for users, but as a whole, companies need to provide transparency to consumers about how their information is used.

We look forward to continuing our work with the FTC to address online trust issues that affect both businesses and their customers.

IE8: Browsing “InPrivate” Features Take User Privacy to Center Stage

User sensitivity to privacy on the internet has been difficult to quantify and act upon for technology providers, websites and advertisers, never mind consumers themselves. In TRUSTe research we have seen a consistent user concern about tracking and targeting; inconsistently competing with a desire for more relevant advertising and content.

New features that Microsoft has added to IE8, (explained here on the IE8 Blog), help resolve some of that concern that users express by giving them more choices on how to control information (both PII and anonymized behavioral information.) “InPrivate” browsing allows consumers to easily, anonymously browse the web by not storing or allowing tracking of any pii or anonymous information.

TRUSTe supports tools that provide consumers with a means to assert their right to privacy when browsing online. While the new browser features InPrivate Blocking further give some measure of boundaries around the extent of data that can be collected and shared to third parties about your browsing history.

Finally, the InPrivate Subscriptions feature allows consumers to designate websites or lists of websites for blocking or sharing browsing data.