The History of the TRUSTe Seal — and Why It Still Has Value Today

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Scott Baradell
Published: Sep 3, 2020
Last Updated: Feb 4, 2021

At the ripe old age of 23, the TRUSTe seal is the granddaddy of trustmarks. And while it's not quite as influential as it used to be, it's still worth having on your website.

Some trust badges indicate your affiliation with prominent industry organizations; others announce to customers that your website’s payment processing is safe and secure. From TRUSTe's beginnings in the early days of e-commerce, its purpose has been to tell your website visitors that your privacy policy meets the highest standards of data governance.

An Online Privacy Pioneer

TRUSTe started as a non-profit association to foster online commerce by helping organizations self-regulate privacy concerns. It wanted online businesses to work together to address the rising privacy fears of consumers. This was decades before anyone had ever thought about the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) or the dozens of other consumer data privacy regulations that exist today.

TRUSTe was a trailblazer from the start.  Among its achievements, it was the first organization to form a framework encompassing both U.S. and European data privacy standards in 2000. A lot has happened since then, but TRUSTe has continued its mission to ensure internet users can feel confident that their data and browsing experiences are secure.

TRUSTe has also been a leader in advocating for the privacy of children’s data online, and has helped set standards to control spam emails—which, like data privacy, have today moved from self-regulation to a governmental regulatory model.

Is it any wonder that the TRUSTe seal still strikes a positive note with consumers visiting not just e-commerce sites, but any website that asks visitors to entrust it with their private data?  It tells visitors that you take  protection and privacy of their personal data seriously. 

Still a Top Five Trustmark

Today, TRUSTe offers multiple certifications and verifications, for the U.S. and worldwide. TRUSTe says of its Enterprise Privacy & Data Governance Practices seal:

Companies who display the TRUSTe Certified Privacy seal have demonstrated that their privacy policies and practices meet the TRUSTe Enterprise Privacy & Data Governance Practices Assessment Criteria.

TRUSTe monitors ongoing compliance through annual recertifications and complaints received through the Privacy Feedback mechanism.

All companies that display this seal are solely responsible for their own privacy practices and for promptly notifying TRUSTe of any changes that might affect their certification status.

TRUSTe is responsible only for the privacy practices applicable to it as expressly described in the privacy policy for the TrustArc group of companies and is not responsible for the privacy practices of any other company.

TRUSTe trust signals

It's fair to say that TRUSTe is no longer the preeminent trustmark to website visitors. Many have never heard of the organization or know of its history, and many other entities and regulations have stepped forward in the privacy and security space.

But the most recent data shows that TRUSTe is still one of the five most recognized trust seals. And with recognition comes trust.

To apply for a TRUSTe seal, visit TrustArc, which became the name of TRUSTe's parent company in 2017.


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