About ten years ago a bunch of folks from internet startups, and the EFF, and others, were cooking up the concept of a self-regulatory framework for internet privacy. After lots of starts and stops, and one grueling labor, the first standards for internet privacy statements and a list of TRUSTe Web Privacy Seal certified websites were birthed in 1997.
Today, we unveiled the first eight software applications certified to the Trusted Download standards. Ten years later Trusted Download has been a labour of love similar to our webseal. In some ways TRUSTe has taken learning from its previous programs to give TDP a running start, and in other areas the program is breaking new ground.
The Anti-spyware Coalition provided the foundation for TDP, by hammering out definitions for spyware and nuisance programs in 2005 – these formed the prohibited behaviors in our certification agreements.
It has taken years for TRUSTe to build its privacy program requirements from mere disclosure, “say what you do,” into an aspirational set of standards that now include a prohibition on sharing of information without consent.
For TDP we wanted to launch a program that began with the highest standards, instead of working up to them. We convened the internet‘s most influential companies – Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, CA, CNET to ensure that no one entity or viewpoint influenced the standards too greatly.
Although they aren’t program sponsors, the program requirements include provisions that Google and others contributed to the process. And we included important players such as the Center for Democracy and Technology from the beginning and in the ongoing advisory committee to the program.
If the launch of the web seal program and its subsequent development is any indicator, we are in for serious growing pains. We’re anticipating a learning process.
Self-regulation is an ecosystem, and an essential part of the range of solutions that help make the internet a more trusted place. We welcome constructive feedback on the program, with the understanding that this is just the beginning of changing the market.
Fran Maier, Executive Director