Report blasts online trustmarks

A lengthy, but very interesting write-up on trustmarks (BBB Online, Trust Guard, TRUSTe, etc.).

The most important test for privacy protection in the trustmarks environment is the underlying standards or requirements that are applied by each scheme. Perhaps expectations here should be realistic – what standard should a consumer expect in a market where a business can buy a legitimate looking privacy seal for $15.99 a year?

Indeed, the privacy standards are appallingly low for trustmarks. Attempts to impose higher standards (during the early stages of trustmark development) appeared to fail on commercial grounds. For example, TRUSTe originally had three privacy seals, indicating whether the collection and disclosure of personal information occurred using a colour scheme.

andThe most significant criticism of trustmarks is that in practice they have proved to be virtually worthless in the face of major privacy breaches. Their privacy standards are low to begin with, but even these rules are simply not enforced against large, paying members.

More here (PDF version here).

Or, you can just skip to the conclusion.