TrustArc Blog

APEC Pays TRUSTe a Visit

October 03, 2011

Fran Maier
President, TRUSTe

APEC was in town (San Francisco) last month and it was our pleasure to host members of APEC’s Data Privacy Subgroup for a tour of our San Francisco offices and an overview of our business. Attendees included delegates from the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce, Mexico, and others. The subgroup (which includes our own General Counsel, John Tomaszewski) has been hard at work hashing out cross-border privacy rules as part of the APEC Data Privacy Pathfinder Initiative. The Pathfinder Initiative is promoting Accountability Agents as a mechanism for cross-border transfer of data under responsible data protection standards.

The theme of our guests’ TRUSTe tour was “Accountability Agents in Action”.  As the subgroup members consider various online trustmark systems, we wanted to show then how a successful privacy accountability company operates.

In addition to an office tour,  our VP of Operations Bo Wilson and his team walked through the life cycle of our trustmark clients, which included a demo of our certification process, technology, and dispute resolution systems. Many attendees were surprised to learn just how much automated technology is behind TRUSTe certifications and products, like our privacy crawling technology that can measure data practices like the number and type of third party tracking mechanisms on a website. We also have a self-service privacy policy generator for small and medium-sized businesses and, of course, there’s TRUSTed Ads.

One point I stressed during our presentation bears repeating: TRUSTe would not succeed in this fast-paced, ever-changing world of online technology were it not for the flexibility and resources we enjoy as a for-profit company.  The infrastructure requirements include technology, highly skilled and trained personnel, and the resources to support complex certifications, product developments, and policy analyses.  The people and technology investments have allowed TRUSTe to meet emerging privacy challenges head on.  A complex, scalable privacy platform like TRUSTed Ads (which now serves billions upon billions of monthly ad impressions) would simply not have been possible for TRUSTe to achieve in the non-profit/public sector world.

We certainly don’t think we can do it alone, however. Public sector regulators (like the FTC or APEC region regulators) play a critical role in the broader sphere of privacy protection by developing standards, enforcing regulations, and promoting best practices. We believe that accountability agents like TRUSTe, buttressed by adequate resources and positive co-regulatory relationships produce improved privacy protections and competitive markets for goods and services for consumers worldwide.

I want to, again, thank the members of the APEC subgroup for taking time out of their busy schedules to pay us a visit.