The European Commission today granted its first privacy "seal of approval" to an online service, paving the way for e-businesses across Europe to certify their practices for protecting users' personal information.
The privacy seal, dubbed EuroPriSe (European Privacy Seal), is a detailed conformance and testing program designed to certify that an online service meets all of the European Union's laws and regulations regarding the handling of customer data.
In a nutshell, the seal assures the user that a Website or online business doesn't store personal data (including IP addresses) for long periods of time or monitor user behavior in ways that are not allowed under EU regulations. The seal also assures users that the personal information collected by the site is kept secure.
The first EuroPriSe seal went to Ixquick, a meta-search engine that forwards search requests of its users to several search engines, gathers and combines their results, and presents the results to the requesting users.
EuroPriSe is funded by the European Commissions eTEN programme and implemented by a consortium of nine organizations under the leadership of the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection Schleswig-Holstein (ULD). Under the scheme, IT products and IT-based services are audited using a two-step procedure: first, an evaluation of the product or service by accepted legal and IT experts; then a cross-checking of the evaluation report by an accredited certification body.
More than 120 experts from the various EU countries have already been trained to work with the EuroPriSe criteria and more than 40 experts have successfully completed the admission procedure and have been granted the right to offer evaluations for IT products, said Kirsten Bock, EuroPriSe project manager.
Eighteen companies from six countries are participating in the pilot certifications and others have started the evaluation process, Bock said.
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