Frequently Asked Questions
- How does TRUSTe's watchdog program work?
- What happens when an investigation reveals that the site has violated its privacy statement?
- Why would TRUSTe call for a third-party, onsite audit?
- How many watchdog complaints has TRUSTe received in the past year?
- Why have only 20% been determined to be valid?
- Does the TRUSTe program deal with software or offline privacy practices?
- How much do Premier Sponsors contribute to the TRUSTe Program?
- Does TRUSTe disclose who sponsors its program?
How does TRUSTe's watchdog program work?
Any Web user can file a data practice complaint about one of TRUSTe's licensees using TRUSTe's watchdog page. The watchdog page can be accessed through each licensed Web site's privacy statement, or directly from TRUSTe's home page. Once a Web user files a complaint, TRUSTe opens an investigation. The first step in the investigation is to determine whether the complaint relates to the Web site's privacy practices. If not, the Web user will be asked to contact the site directly to resolve non-privacy issues. If the complaint does relate to privacy practices, TRUSTe will first ask the user to contact the Web site directly. If the user is not satisfied by the outcome, TRUSTe will then review the complaint and the Web site's privacy statement to determine if the alleged action is a violation of the site's privacy practices. If the alleged action would indeed be a violation, the investigation will continue to determine whether or not the violation occurred. This investigation varies depending on the nature of the alleged violation.
What happens when an investigation reveals that the site has violated its privacy statement?
TRUSTe will consider several options depending on the nature of the alleged violation. These options include:
- Site may be asked to change the practice in question.
- Site may be asked to change its privacy statement.
- The site may be asked to undergo a third-party audit to assure that problems have been fixed.
- If the site disagrees with TRUSTe's findings, the site itself can call for a third-party audit.
- TRUSTe may revoke its seal or "trustmark".
- If an egregious or malicious breach has occurred, the site may be referred to an appropriate law enforcement agency.
Why would TRUSTe call for a third-party, onsite audit?
TRUSTe may call for a third-party audit by our official auditors-KPMG Peat Marwick or PriceWaterhouseCoopers-in order to determine if the Web site has violated its privacy statement or licensing agreement with TRUSTe or to determine whether a Web site has successfully resolved any data collection and use practices that were found to be in violation of the site's privacy statement. The complete License Agreement can be found by clicking here.
How many watchdog complaints has TRUSTe received in the past year?
TRUSTe has resolved approximately 375 complaints in the past year. Approximately 20% of those complaints were found to be valid-i.e. to involve an alleged privacy violation-thereby requiring further investigation by TRUSTe.
Why have only 20% been determined to be valid?
Many general "customer service" complaints are mistakenly directed to TRUSTe. In addition, some complaints are received about software or other offline products.
Does the TRUSTe program deal with software or offline privacy practices?
No. The TRUSTe program only monitors how information is collected and subsequently used at and by Web sites.
How much do Premier Sponsors contribute to the TRUSTe Program?
Premier Sponsors contribute $100,000 per year in cash or in-kind services for a period of two years.
Does TRUSTe disclose who sponsors its program?
Yes. All sponsors are listed on TRUSTe's Web site. Currently, TRUSTe has 10 Premier Sponsors.