We're confused about Trusted Download

Ok, look at this list. It’s TRUSTe’s list of certified “Trusted Download” applications.

Putting aside how you might feel about some of these apps being listed as “Trusted Downloads”, here’s the Big Question of the Day:

Smart Shopper shows up on TRUSTe’s website here as being a Trusted Download.

But it’s not on the list above.

Must be a simple mistake, right?

Well…no.

Ben Edelman contacted TRUSTe, curious.

http www sunbelt software com ihs alex trusteddownload213412348 thumb jpg

The answer he got back is, frankly, baffling:

SmartShopper is certified by our Trusted Download Program and Web Privacy Seal Program as indicated on the validation page. In certain very rare exception cases,

TRUSTe may allow a company to not appear in our TDP whitelist even though they are certified by us.

Something smells rotten in Denmark.

Why wouldn’t SmartShopper want to appear on the list of Trusted Downloads? And how many other “very rare exceptions” are there?

This is a bit unnerving. It shows that in at least one instance, TRUSTe has chosen not to broadly publish the fact that an application has been certified as trusted. So, the list on their website is not complete.

A consumer “watchdog” organization like TRUSTe will only survive and gain respect if it consistently shows a policy of full and open disclosure and transparency.

Update 9/7: This response was received by Ben Edelman from TRUSTe:

"This is the only exception we have made. TRUSTe evaluated the request and approved the exception for the Beta period. SmartShopper is subject to the same disclosure and monitoring requirements as any other certified TDP application.

"During the Beta period, we are still evaluating what types of information will be listed on the TRUSTe whitelist and how we will present the information on our site. In preparation to roll out the full version of the program in 2008, we are seeking public comment during this beta phase and appreciate and welcome your input."