KPMG joins the Web 'trust site' stampede

A war of words has broken out over a scheme to persuade consumers to trust the Internet

Consultancy firm KPMG and the Institute of Chartered Accountants have launched a Web site intended to reinforce public trust in using the Internet.

However, the scheme, called Webtrust, risks muddying the waters for consumers, as several similar schemes have already been launched.

Two "trust" sites from Clicksure and the Consumers' Association have already found themselves at odds over how Web sites' compliance should be audited. That has led to a war of words, with the Government backing the Consumers' Association's scheme through a "hallmark" initiative called Trust UK.

The Consumers' Association scheme is based largely on self-monitoring, while Webtrust has adopted a similar stance to Clicksure, which insists on continuing audits. Webtrust wants to see audits every three months, or whenever there has been a major change in business practice. At issue between the schemes is the likely cost of continued audited compliance for small traders.

Webtrust said its scheme is international in scope, with an assessment that incorporates issues such as privacy, security, transaction integrity, and consumer recourse. Its first seal for a company offering goods and services has gone to financial services company First Active.

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