TRUSTe launches consumer privacy program

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Online security firm TRUSTe launched the “TRUSTed Data Collection” privacy program on April 4. The initiative ensures that certified third-party companies collecting consumer information online are transparent about their practices, provide consumers the choice to opt-out, and abide the consumer's choice, said Chris Babel, CEO of TRUSTe.

“You're now seeing new mechanisms in the browser that potentially could block all third-party tracking. What our offering is meant to do is to help consumers distinguish between good third-party data providers and some that aren't as good,” he said. “So rather than the only choice being I'll have everything or I'll have nothing, we're giving consumers the choice to say, well, you may want to turn some things off, but there are some people who are good.”

Certified companies include digital marketing research firm InsightExpress, digital media company Specific Media, data platform BlueKai and analytics company comScore.

Certified companies are also recognized by TRUSTe's “Tracking Protection Lists” (TPL), which consumers can enable on Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 browser. Companies marked as an “allow” on TRUSTe's list cannot be blocked by another TPL that may otherwise block that company.

The launch comes less than two months after Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced the Do Not Track Me Online Act of 2011, which would prohibit the monitoring of consumers' online behavior without their consent. Late last year, the Federal Trade Commission called for a universal third-party tracking opt-out option.

Companies placed on the “allow” list must be Digital Advertising Alliance members and serve ads featuring an icon that provides consumers information about the behaviorally targeted ad, and gives them the ability to opt-out from tracking. These companies are prohibited from collecting personally identifiable information and pooling their data with other third-party resources.

Babel said TRUSTe tests its certified companies “regularly” to ensure their practices do not violate TRUSTe policies.

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