Truste tightens requirements for its seal of approval

Thursday, 12 December 2002, 12:08 PM EST

A leading privacy seal group, Truste, has toughened its privacy seal licensing requirements as well as its ability to monitor the privacy practices of Web sites that display its seal.

One key change requires businesses to adhere to user preferences for no less than 12 months before changing them. The intent is to give customers certainty that their privacy practices won't change soon after they choose them.

Another licensing change closes a loophole that allowed a small number of companies to share personal data to third-party marketing firms without giving customers the ability to opt-out of that data sharing.

Truste is also using technology developed by Watchfire Corp. in Waltham, Mass., that uses automated agents, Web crawlers, to examine Web sites' privacy practices for compliance to their privacy policies. Truste officials believe they will learn of possible problems earlier than they would through annual reviews.

Fran Maier, executive director of San Francisco-based Truste, said the licensing changes, as well as the monitoring effort, "are really sending the message that we take enforcement compliance seriously, that we have teeth."

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