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Privacy Power!  Home:  Advertising & Marketing:  TRUSTe

General Info | Board Members | Corporate Sponsors | TRUSTe Articles | TRUSTe Decisions


About TRUSTe:

When visiting websites I always look for the TRUSTe seal. It's a very effective warning sign.

On Jan 26, 2000 the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) announced that Paul Bruening, TRUSTe's Director of Compliance and Policy, had been chosen to serve on the "Federal Trade Commission's Advisory Committee on Online Access and Security."

When DoubleClick announced it's "Consumer Privacy Advisory Board" on May 21, 2000, Lori Fena (chairman & co-founder of TRUSTe) was one of the members.

In honor of TRUSTe's latest farce, Privacy Partnership 2000, I've put together this TRUSTe "retrospective." TRUSTe's partners in initiating the Privacy Partnership 2000 include AltaVista, America Online, BrightStreet, Excite@Home, IBM, Intel, Lycos, Microsoft, Persona, RealNetworks, Verizon Communications, and Yahoo.

Steve Gibson's recent exposure of tracking by RealNetworks' RealDownload software makes this list especially humorous (see

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TRUSTe Board Members & Employers

Lori Fena (Chairman), Jill Lesser (America Online), Andy Blackburn (Boston Consulting Group), Terry Pittman (, Tara Lemmey (Electronic Frontier Foundation), John Berard (FitzGerald Communications), Christine Varney (Hogan and Hartson), David Hoffman (Intel), Roger Cochetti (Network Solutions, Inc.), Richard Purcell (Microsoft), Steve Lucas (Privaseek), Bob Lewin (TRUSTe)

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TRUSTe Corporate Sponsors

Premier Corporate Sponsors include AOL, Excite, Intel, and Microsoft. Contributing Corporate Sponsors include AdForce, Bell Atlantic, Concentric Network, Engage Technologies, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, RD/FOX, and Novell.

AdForce, Engage, and Bell Atlantic (see L90) are profiled on this site.

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TRUSTe Articles  (links shortened for page sanity)

Privacy group accused of breaking own rules

Aug 24, 2000: "Truste, an advocacy organization that runs a privacy seal-of-approval program for retail Web sites and shows companies how to write effective privacy policies, itself has tracked Web surfers with means not mentioned in its own privacy policy, a security group says." (link courtesy of "Curley")

Is TRUSTe worthy of seal?

July 28, 2000: "Privacy group Electronic Frontiers Australia has dismissed TRUSTe's Privacy Partnership 2000 campaign for online privacy protection as a "complete waste of time." (link courtesy of "dosdummy")

The privacy police?

March 13, 2000: "TRUSTe CEO Bob Lewin explains how even sites selling personal data can get the nonprofit's privacy seal of approval."

The Truth About TRUSTe and Your Privacy

1999: "As Lori Fena, Chair of TRUSTe's Board of Directors confirmed in a recent segment of 60 Minutes (Nov 29, 1999), the seal does not mean that a licensee is not sharing or selling personal information, nor does it guarantee that your privacy will be protected."

Taking self-regulation to task

July 20, 1999: Chris Larsen, co-founder and CEO of E-Loan, "...all but called the industry's push toward self-regulation hypocrisy, and indeed slammed volunteer efforts to protect consumer privacy online as a "failure." Citing TRUSTe's actions in the Microsoft GUID complaint: "(TRUSTe) took no action whatsoever to protect and reassure consumers," he said. "That was a major sign to us."

Online Shopping: Not So Safe?

Feb 8, 1999: "Do you only frequent Web sites that bear the "seal of approval" from TRUSTe? Is it safer to shop at a TRUSTe-d site? Does that TRUSTe logo prevent your credit card number from being stolen? Think again. Even TRUSTe admits that its logo doesn't guarantee safety. Security experts I interviewed question the program's usefulness, citing TRUSTe's ties to such corporate "sponsors" as Microsoft, AOL, Compaq, Excite, Intel, and Novell."

Privacy for Dummies? Corporations Hide Behind Fake Net Privacy Solutions

June 08, 1998: "...privacy isn't necessarily the problem, the image of privacy is. Small wonder, then, that so many of the so-called champions of privacy are those who have managed to collect the most personalized data."

TRUSTe Downgrades To One-Size-Fits-All Seal

Sept 17, 1997: "TRUSTe marks down privacy labels"

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TRUSTe Decisions  (links shortened for page sanity)

TRUSTe Decides Its Own Fate Today

Nov 8, 1999: "All the badge means is that the site has a privacy policy, and that, as far as TRUSTe knows, they haven't violated it." This article, followed by user comments, is an excellent TRUSTe timeline, starting from it's well-intentioned beginnings through the GeoCities, Microsoft, DejaNews (non)-decisions, up to the RealNetworks (non)-decision in 1999. At that time, TRUSTe still listed RealNetworks as a Contributing Corporate Sponsor.

Additional reading on TRUSTe's Geocities, Microsoft, DejaNews, & Real decisions:

TRUSTe and GeoCities

June 1998: "FTC, GeoCities settle on privacy"

TRUSTe and Microsoft (GUIDs)

March 1999: "Truste clears Microsoft on technicality"

TRUSTe and DejaNews

April 1999: "Deja News to stop tracking addresses"

TRUSTe and Microsoft (Hotmail)

October 4, 1999: "Truste OKs Hotmail security fixes"

TRUSTe and RealNetworks (with background)

Nov 3, 1999: "Can You Trust TRUSTe?"

TRUSTe and RealNetworks (with background)

Nov 5, 1999: "Is TRUSTe Trustworthy?"

TRUSTe and RealNetworks (with background)

Nov 9, 1999: "TRUSTe Declines Real Probe"

TRUSTe and RealNetworks (RealJukebox)

Nov 16, 1999: "TRUSTe and RealNetworks Wrap-Up"

Updated: Sept 08-00

Quoted excerpts are © their referenced owners.

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