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Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
September 10, 2004
InfoAve Premium Edition Newsletter

Who Can You TRUSTe?

While looking through some forums the other night we came across some interesting entries. There were people writing posts that said that this program or that program were not spyware because they had the TRUSTe seal.

So, we decided to check it our for ourselves to see exactly how much we could trust TRUSTe. The first place we went was to "Hotbar" (a TRUSTe licensee).

Im sure many of you whove been reading our newsletters for very long know how we feel about "Hotbar". And, some of you are aware that "Hotbar" has threatened legal action against us. Just to be "fair and balanced" we did a search on Google for "Hotbar and we found 39 pages of search results. At the end of this article we a link to the  search results. Feel free to check them out or do your own search.

"Hotbar" says they’re not spyware. Their 4400+ word "Hotbar" EULA is an magnificent masterpiece of ambiguity. A lawyer’s dream. And, their privacy policy? Hmmm, well read it for yourself. Click here to read the entire "Hotbar" Privacy Policy. Anyway, we wanted to see what TRUSTe had to say about spyware. So we visited their bustling little hive of a Web site and sure enough we find that TRUSTe is firmly entrenched in the war on spyware! They quote an entire anti-spyware article from GetNetWise (http://www.getnetwise.com). You can see it for yourself on the TRUSTe Web site: http://www.truste.org/articles/preventing_spyware.php .

"Hotbar" is an TRUSTe seal holder. That means they meet TRUSTe standards for protecting your privacy. Yet hundreds, perhaps thousands of technical, anti-spyware, government, college, and educational sites say that "Hotbar" is spyware. TRUSTe is against spyware. Are you starting to see something wrong with this picture? Here’s what TRUSTe says about "Hotbar":

 "This confirms that Hotbar.com, Inc. ("Hotbar") is a licensee of the TRUSTe Privacy Program.

TRUSTe is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to build users' trust and confidence in the Internet by promoting the principles of fair information practices. Because "Hotbar" is committed to respecting and protecting your privacy, we have agreed to disclose our information practices and have our privacy practices reviewed and audited for compliance by a third-party auditor at the direction of TRUSTe. These TRUSTe principles apply to personally identifiable information gathered on "Hotbar" Web site. This privacy statement will inform all visitors to our Web site regarding:

  1. What personally identifiable information we collect/use about you on this Web site
  2. What we do with personally identifiable information we collect/use on this Web site
  3. Whether any of your personally identifiable information will be shared with any third party

Questions regarding this statement should be directed to the "Hotbar" site coordinator at Hotbar.privacy@Hotbar.com or TRUSTe at http://www.truste.org/users/users_watchdog.html for clarification."

We think it’s a shame when companies like TRUSTe, who are in the business of trust and protecting consumers, bestow their seal on companies like "Hotbar". These companies then hide behind that seal of trust. In our opinion, "Hotbar" uses the TRUSTe seal to lure innocent and unsuspecting consumers into a tangled Web of questionable, ever-expanding list of "free" products. We have personally seen the problems "Hotbar" can cause.

If you can’t trust TRUSTe who can you trust?  Sorry TRUSTe, you have lost our trust....and respect.

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