|Headquarters||835 Market Street, San Francisco, California, USA|
|Key people||CEO: Chris Babel - VP Product: Kevin Trilli - VP Marketing: Dave Deasy|
TRUSTe is a company based in San Francisco, California, with an offshore facility Cebu City, Philippines, best known for its online privacy seals. TRUSTe operates a privacy seal program, certifying websites, mobile apps, and cloud services for more than 5,000 businesses, including Apple, eBay, HP, Intuit, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Zynga.
TRUSTe was founded as a non-profit industry association in 1997 by Lori Fena, then executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and Charles Jennings, a software entrepreneur, with the mission of fostering online commerce by helping businesses and other online organizations self-regulate privacy concerns. Toward this end TRUSTe launched its flagship Privacy Seal Program, providing privacy seals to websites who abide by a set of fair information privacy practices and agreed to participate in the company's consumer privacy dispute resolution service.
In 2000, TRUSTe became the first organization to join the U.S. Department of Commerce's European Union (EU) safe harbor framework and subsequently launched its EU Safe Harbor Seal Program. The US-EU Safe Harbor was agreed upon by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the European Union to provide a framework for American companies to comply with European data and privacy standards.
Fran Maier, co-founder of Match.com, joined TRUSTe as Executive Director in 2001. One of the first efforts was to address consumer issues with spam or unwanted email. Maier resigned her position in 2012.
In 2006, TRUSTe launched its Trusted Download Program, designed to separate “good” downloadable software from adware and spyware.
In 2008, TRUSTe changed its structure from a non-profit industry association to a venture-backed for-profit company, raising its first round of capital from Accel Ventures.
Chris Babel, former Senior Vice President of VeriSign’s worldwide Authentication Services, joined TRUSTe as chief executive officer in November 2009.
Meaning of TRUSTe seal
The TRUSTe seal does not indicate that a web site complies with any specific set of privacy rules, such as the European Union's Data Protection Directive. It indicates only that the site has self-certified as complying with the site's own privacy statement.
TRUSTe claims to enforce its privacy rules, and operates a "Watchdog" operation which accepts consumer complaints. TRUSTe described its enforcement process in a filing with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2000. From 2000 to June 2004, TRUSTe published "Watchdog Reports" reporting their enforcement actions. The final report, for June 2004, shows 256 reports received and 130 reports closed. All 130 reports were resolved with "Issue Handles with no changes necessary to the Privacy Statement nor the Site". In no case was an enforcement action taken. In 2004, no enforcement actions were taken. In 2003, one enforcement action was taken, out of over a thousand complaints. After June 2004, TrustE ceased reporting on enforcement actions, despite the statement in its FTC filing that it would publish such reports at least twice a year.
Dr. Edelman has also reported that TRUSTe does not go far enough to punish seal holders that break TRUSTe’s rules and that the organization is not quick enough in revoking the seal on companies that violate privacy standards.
- TRUSTe Press Release
- "The Hundredth Window:Protecting Your Privacy and Security in the Age of the Internet". Simon and Schuster Free Press. Retrieved 2008-08-19.
- Angwin, Julia (1998-02-12). "Media innovation must come from the free market". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- "TRUSTe Launches Trusted Download Beta Program to Certify That Consumer Software is not Spyware" (Press release). TRUSTe. November 3, 2006. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- "TRUSTe Management". TRUSTe. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- "Privacy Program Requirements". TRUSTe. 2011.
- "TRUSTe web site privacy seal compliance-escalation process". Federal Trade Commission. 2000.
- "TRUSTe watchdog reports". TRUSTe. 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-04-02.
- Edelman, Benjamin (September 25, 2006). "Certifications and Site Trustworthiness". Retrieved 2008-07-03.
- Edelman, Benjamin (March 18, 2008). "Coupons.com and TRUSTe: Lots of Talk, Too Little Action". Retrieved 2008-07-03.