TRUSTe’s Trusted Downloads Beta Program to Offer First Independent Industry Standards, Monitoring and Enforcement Program for Downloadable Software

Yahoo!, AOL, Computer Associates, CNET Networks, and Verizon back Program’s market incentives and enforcement

Washington, D.C. – November 16, 2005 - Today, TRUSTe and sponsors representing leading content and search providers, anti-spyware vendors and online advertisers announced a new program to certify consumer downloadable software programs. TRUSTed Downloads provides market incentives for adware and other software companies to clearly and unavoidably communicate key functionalities and obtain informed consumer consent prior to download.

“With consumers downloading more and more software, it’s vital to give people real control over what they will allow on their computers,” said Fran Maier, executive director and president of TRUSTe. “Through TRUSTed Downloads we will provide a clear, actionable set of standards and an effective method of monitoring and enforcing those standards. This extends TRUSTe’s mission to build trust between individuals and organizations online.”

TRUSTed Downloads promotes ethical behavior by publishing a “whitelist” of certified applications. The whitelist will be used by companies beginning with program sponsors such as Yahoo!, AOL, Computer Associates, CNET Networks and Verizon as a tool to make business decisions about advertising, partnering or distributing software products. This provides attractive market incentives to adware and other software providers to meet the requirements and earn certification.

To be placed on the whitelist, adware and trackware must prominently disclose the types of advertising that will be displayed, personal information that will be tracked, and user settings that may be altered, and must obtain user opt-in consent for the download. An easy uninstall with clear instructions must be provided, and advertisements must be labeled with the name of the adware program. Program participants must maintain separate advertising inventory for users of certified applications. To move legacy users to certified advertising inventory, they must obtain new opt-in consent.

The complete set of program requirements is available on the TRUSTe website.

"Yahoo! is very proud to help create this historic program. For the first time, companies, like Yahoo!, will have a powerful tool to identify software applications that respect consumers and a means to monitor and enforce compliance over time," said Doug Leeds, Yahoo!'s vice president, Product Justice.  "This Program takes the strong desire of leading internet companies to protect their customers and transforms it into a market incentive for software developers to build better products.  In the end, the consumer is the real winner."

Today’s announcement introduces the technical and other requirements for software companies seeking certification. The program’s Beta launch is expected to take place early next year. Prior to the Beta launch, TRUSTe is accepting additional feedback from a wide range of interested stakeholders.

“TRUSTe's efforts to separate legitimate programs from rogue software will be invaluable to Web advertisers and publishers who care about protecting their brands online,” said Jules Polonetsky, vice president, Integrity Assurance for America Online, Inc. “This program will be a useful, additional level of review to assist with our compliance efforts to ensure Internet users aren’t misled into downloading programs that interfere with their online experience.”

Review and guidance were also provided by Microsoft, and the Center for Democracy and Technology. Additional program information, including certification criteria, program elements, FAQs and sponsor roles, is available on TRUSTe’s website at /products-and-services/enterprise-privacy/TRUSTed-downloads.

About TRUSTe
TRUSTe is the leading global Data Privacy Management (DPM) company and powers trust in the data economy by enabling businesses to safely collect and use customer data across their customer, employee, and vendor channels. Our SaaS-based DPM Platform gives users control over all phases of data privacy management from conducting assessments and implementing compliance controls to managing ongoing monitoring. Our DPM Services, including assessments and certifications, are delivered by an expert team of privacy professionals. Thousands of companies worldwide rely on TRUSTe to minimize compliance risk and protect their brand.


Key Quotes

Contributor: Center for Democracy and Technology
"I think we'll look back at 2005 -- with the announcement of this program, advances in anti-spyware technology and dramatically bolstered enforcement -- as the turning point in beginning to truly distinguish good actors from bad in the downloadable software space. All of these developments are helping to tip the balance in favor of consumers in determining what software ends up on their computers. " -- Ari Schwartz, deputy director, Center for Democracy and Technology

Sponsor: CNET Networks
“CNET, the Web’s leading source for free-to-try legal downloads, is committed to proactively supporting the efforts that help consumers protect themselves from spyware and other growing threats of the digital age, as evidenced by the policy we instituted last year to ban adware and spyware on the site. We wholeheartedly support this initiative led by TRUSTe, and believe that everyone will benefit from new standards that provide consumers with better and more adequate notice, choice, and control over what software is installed onto their computers.” -- Jim Stanley, vice president of CNET, a property of CNET Networks, Inc.

Sponsor: Computer Associates
“The war against spyware must be fought on four fronts: technology, standards development, industry self-regulation/certification, and legislation/law enforcement. As the leading provider of anti-spyware solutions, CA is actively partnering with third-party organizations such as TRUSTe, and we are proud to be sponsoring TRUSTed Downloads to help create a self-regulating industry ecosystem where behavior that protects the productivity, privacy and security of users is rewarded and behavior that compromises it is not.” -- Tori Case, director, eTrust Security Management, Computer Associates

Supporter: Network Advertising Initiative
"This program will introduce specific, new standards of notice, consent, and consumer control for the online advertising marketplace. The standards will ultimately improve the marketplace for all." - Trevor Hughes, executive director of the Network Advertising

Sponsor: Verizon
"In July 2004, Verizon implemented its own guidelines for our on-line advertisers to follow relative to adware and spyware. We recognized at that time that consumers were confused, wary and reluctant to engage in e-commerce because of these on-line technologies. We stated in our guidelines that clear and conspicuous notice was pivotal as well as a plain English consent statement that consumers can understand. TRUSTed Downloads encompasses the best response from market leaders: clear, communicated standards of performance and full disclosure in order that the consumers can make their own conscious choices." -- Margo Hammar, chief privacy officer, Verizon Initiative

AOL: Andrew Weinstein,, (703)-265-0185
CA: Jessica Cassady,, (202) 513-6303
CNET: Sarah Cain,, (415) 344-2218
Verizon: Mark Marchand,, (518) 424-0166
Yahoo!: Gaude Paez,, (310) 749-4963