Traffic Light Protocol
The Traffic Light Protocol (TLP) was created to encourage greater sharing of sensitive information. The originator signals how widely they want their information to be circulated beyond the immediate recipient.
The TLP provides a simple method to achieve this. It is designed to improve the flow of information between individuals, organizations or communities in a controlled and trusted way. It is important that everyone understands and obeys the rules of the protocol. Only then can trust be established and the benefits of information sharing realized. The TLP is based on the concept of the originator labeling information with one of four colors to indicate what further dissemination, if any, can be undertaken by the recipient. The recipient must consult the originator if wider dissemination is required.
The four colors and their meanings
There are four colors (or traffic lights):
- RED - personal for named recipients only
- In the context of a meeting, for example, RED information is limited to those present at the meeting. In most circumstances, RED information will be passed verbally or in person.
- AMBER - limited distribution
- The recipient may share AMBER information with others within their organization, but only on a ‘need-to-know’ basis. The originator may be expected to specify the intended limits of that sharing.
- GREEN - community wide
- Information in this category can be circulated widely within a particular community. However, the information may not be published or posted publicly on the Internet, nor released outside of the community.
- WHITE - unlimited
- Subject to standard copyright rules, WHITE information may be distributed freely, without restriction.
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