TRUSTe Initiative Aims to Assign Symbols for Privacy Policies

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Privacy seal provider TRUSTe yesterday introduced its Privacy Symbols and Labels Initiative, which it claims will develop privacy iconography to represent the content of Web sites' privacy policies.

The premise behind the initiative is that consumers do not always read and understand the privacy policies on Web sites and that privacy seals let consumers know that a site is audited by a third party, according to TRUSTe.

TRUSTe is calling on other privacy organizations as well as on Internet marketing industry associations and corporations to join its coalition, which will work to create and implement the privacy symbols and labels.

"Phase one is to get the cross-platform and cross-services people together," said Lori Fena, co-founder and chairman of TRUSTe, San Jose. "The good news is that most of the industry associations have already adopted very proactive privacy programs and guidelines."

Organizations that have already signed on include the Information Technology Association of America, the Personal Communications Industry Association and the Wireless Advertising Association.

TRUSTe also has asked the Privacy Leadership Initiative to join its efforts. The initiative is a privacy research and education partnership of CEOs from 15 corporations, including Acxiom, DoubleClick and Experian; and nine business associations, including the Direct Marketing Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

After the privacy symbols and labels are decided on, they will be available for use by other third-party Web site privacy auditors.

TRUSTe is a nonprofit online privacy organization that grants its seal of approval to Web sites with comprehensive, accessible and readable privacy agreements. Companies deemed to be in compliance with the program must sign a contract with TRUSTe that ensures adherence to the approved privacy policy.

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