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Truste aims to guard surfers from spam

Certification program puts seal of approval on Web sites that adhere to e-mail guidelines designed to squelch junk mail.

Online privacy watchdog Truste has launched a certification program to help people avoid spam when they submit their e-mail addresses online.

The program, introduced Tuesday, allows Web sites whose e-mail policies conform to Truste's strict privacy and fair practice guidelines to display a seal stating "We Don't Spam."

The idea is that by bolstering consumer trust in their data collection practices, companies will be able to increase online customer registration rates, Truste said. The group said that online magazine, which participated in a prerelease trial, recorded a 7 percent increase in registrations when the seal was used.

To qualify, Web sites have to adhere to practices such as obtaining consent from consumers before sending commercial e-mail and offering an "unsubscribe" option that is easy to use and responsive. They should also disclose their e-mail practices online and show willingness to participate in dispute resolution.

The program was developed with e-mail specialists Return Path, behind the Bonded Sender accreditation program, and Double Click Email Solutions. Return Path will be the exclusive reseller for the certification program.