The FTC slaps TRUSTe for not checking up on websites’ privacy practices

TRUSTe, the San Francisco-based firm that certifies websites for meeting user privacy standards, failed to perform annual company privacy audits, the Federal Trade Commission said Monday.

The company has agreed to pay $200,000 to settle the charges. The FTC also alleged that TRUSTe did not correct some websites that described the firm as a non-profit.

Websites display TRUSTe’s seal to assure consumers that they comply with federal privacy regulations. But the FTC found that between 2006 and 2013, the company did not do roughly 1,000 annual reviews as promised.

FTC Chair Edith Ramirez said in a statement:

TRUSTe promised to hold companies accountable for protecting consumer privacy, but it fell short of that pledge.  Self-regulation plays an important role in helping to protect consumers.  But when companies fail to live up to their promises to consumers, the FTC will not hesitate to take action.

Chris Babel, TRUSTe’s CEO, said in a blog post that the company failed to conduct less than 10 percent of the reviews it was supposed to over the time period. The missed reviews were for firms that signed up for multi year contracts. Since most of those contracts were for two years, the companies involved were re-audited every other year.

Above: The TRUSTe privacy seal. 




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