WEB SITE EVALUATION of http://www.truste.org
Marilyn Bishop MD, MPH
Rosalee (Roz) Seymour EdD, RN, CS
doing research for an ethics paper I found the TRUSTe Privacy Seal associated
with the privacy statements of some online pharmacies. TRUSTe is a
non-profit organization that promotes a system of self-governance to establish
appropriate industry privacy standards. A ten-member board of directors
comprised of consumer and privacy advocates, and industry representatives govern
the organization. The board members and the organizations that they
represent are listed on the web page (http://www.truste.org)
TRUSTe siteís uniform resource locator (URL) is http://www.truste.org. In the URL, http refers to Hyper Text Transfer Protocol which is
the type of protocol utilized to transfer data and refers to the specific
protocol that transfers web pages. The cryptic:// is a separator.
The www denotes that the computer is acting as a web server. The domain
name, truste, identifies that it is the TRUSTe organization and that the web
site resides on their server. The domain designation, .org, indicates that
this entity is a non-profit organization.
intended audience appears to be web publishers, web users, parents and teachers,
and government regulators. The home page (http://www.truste.org)
is categorized according to the type of visitor so that pertinent information
could be easily accessed depending on the nature of the visitorís needs.
The home page (http://www.truste.org)
provides embedded links to other pages, or documents sponsored by TRUSTe.
For example, web publishers were linked to web pages within the site that
specifically addressed the development of privacy statements to meet their
business needs. They were also instructed how to receive and apply for
endorsement by the TRUSTe organization and also the cost of the endorsement.
Hyperlinks are provided to web sites that cover policy development,
consumer activities, as well as to recent news items.
TRUSTe organization is considered an industry leader in working to establish and
verify adherance of web sites to privacy principles of disclosure, choice,
access, and security. The web site (http://www.truste.org)
contains several references to TRUSTe collaboration with U.S. governmental
agency initiatives as well as their involvement on an international basis.
President Clinton endorsed the organization and its efforts for self-regulation
in a speech he gave in March 2000. This endorsement was quoted in the web
Evidence of sanction for the site and the organization is important because it
helps the user to establish credibility and legitimacy.
web site (http://www.truste.org)
publishes a quarterly newsletter regarding recent news items and initiatives on
organization. It does recruit members for its TRUSTe seal program, through
the site, and recruits members for its Privacy Partnership a business coalition
dedicated to implementing an industry wide approach to education. The
organization may be contacted via e-mail, phone, fax or mail.
is of help in understanding the nature of privacy and dissemination of
information practices on the web. These are critical issues in the
healthcare environment and concerns for these issues are of utmost importance
when establishing practices for conducting business especially as related to a
personís healthcare information. TRUSTe has a mechanism in place for
ensuring compliance with its principles. It has the TRUSTe Watchdog, which
allows a private individual to report a TRUSTe licensed site that may not have
and breaches may result in an on-site compliance review by a CPA firm, reporting
to the attorney general office at the state or federal level, reporting to the
Federal Trade Agency or the Consumer Protection Agency.
are references on the site (http://www.truste.org)
as to actions taken by the TRUSTe organization against businesses that had
program is the contract that is signed between TRUSTe and the web site.
This contract gives TRUSTe the ability to address usersí privacy concerns
regardless of their citizenship or the location of the TRUSTe licensee.
also is informative as to the global policies and initiatives that exist with
respect to privacy and dissemination practices. Agencies in the US are
limited by their geographic jurisdiction but there are global efforts, such as
TRUSTe, within the e-commerce industry to address these issues of privacy,
security and dissemination of information. Since online pharmacies, for
example, are not limited by geographic boundaries and collect personal
information, initiatives such as TRUSTe are critical to building the trust and
confidence of both consumers and healthcare providers.
We recommend this site to anyone examining the issues of privacy, security, and dissemination of information.
Bishop, M. & Seymour, R. (April, 2001). WEB SITE EVALUATION of http://www.truste.org. Online Journal of Nursing Informatics (OJNI). Vol. 5, No. 1. [Online]. Available at http://www.hhdev.psu.edu/nurs/ojni/website_evaluation.htm.