Trust Label

The Digital Trust Label (DTL) denotes the trustworthiness of a digital service in clear visual plain non-technical language. It represents a mark of confidence that a service provider takes its promise of meeting consumer expectations seriously.

The Label empowers consumers with the knowledge and confidence to make informed choices.

The Label is a controllable and auditable list of guarantees which a service will provide. It is built on four critical issues for trust in the digital space:

1
Security of the Service
2
Fair data management
3
Reliability of the Service
4
Responsible interactions with the users

Why

The problem the Label addresses is the question of trust in the digital age. This is a complex question because trust is rooted in interpersonal relationships which are now increasingly mediated through technology.

The fact that there is a trust deficit in contemporary society and that this represents a huge challenge to the future is a widely recognized problem. Institutions, governments, businesses and civil society are all grappling with it in numerous ways.

While everyone recognizes that this is a complex problem with no immediate or obvious solution, identifying what precisely constitutes its elusive character is fundamental to clarifying solutions and the DTL’s orientation. Solving the wrong problem only creates more problems.

How it works

The Label safeguards against conflicts of interest, not only by upholding criteria set by independent technical experts, but by providing independent and impartial mechanisms of verification and conflict resolution.

Core principles:

Behind its visual display lies a bundle of benchmarked technical and ethical criteria that have been verified and audited by an independent third party. Its standards and criteria were, and always will be, determined in a co-creation process involving academia, civil society, business and, above all, consumers.

  • For the consumer, the scorecard display of the DTL is a mark of calibrated reassurance. It communicates where they stand and what they can expect when things go right (the promised standards are met) and, more importantly, when things go wrong. By simplifying complexity with some assurance of accountability, the DTL guarantees a degree of freedom upon which trust, and future loyalty can be built.
  • For service providers it represents a public commitment to uphold ethical behaviour. It enables businesses to express their consumer centricity and their goal of building loyalty. It is a differentiator and a future-oriented means of managing risk.
  • For the experts this provides assurance that the legitimacy and authority implied by the Label is not simply a marketing exercise, but a commitment to best practice.

Consumer-centricity as guiding principle

The label is based on indicators organized in four categories representing important consumer values:

  1. The service is secure and data is protected from hacking or abuse.
  2. The users’ privacy is respected and will not be abused.
  3. The service is reliable and that promised outcomes are assured.
  4. The service is fair with easily understood in-built accountability and conflict resolution.

Those are found in the four principle at the base of the label organisation:

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Public Consultation Process

Until end of March 2021, we are gathering feedback, comments and inputs on the current version of the Label Catalogue. Please send us a message to receive the invitation link for the document.

History

Together with its main partner, the EPFL Centre for Digital Trust (C4DT), SDI had already carried out the groundwork for the development of the DTL in 2019 and 2020.

The core of the Label, a sound catalogue of verifiable and auditable criteria, has been co-developed by a small Academic Expert Group (from the ETH, EPFL, Universities of Geneva and Zurich) on the basis of a user study on digital trust (conducted in November 2019). An independent Swiss-based testing, verification and certification specialist, the Société Generale de Surveillance (SGS), further developed the Label catalogue to make sure that it is auditable and verifiable.

Based on this first draft of the Label Catalogue, SDI conducted three main processes:

  1. It put in place a “Label Expert Committee”, consisting of experts from the academia, fields of data- and consumer protection, human rights and digital ethics, advising the SDI Board on the Label’s content and framework.
  2. It conducted a co-development and public consultation process, which provided civil society bodies with the opportunity to comment on and test the catalogue of criteria through face-to-face interviews, an online survey and workshops.
  3. Six of the eight test partners tested the Label Catalogue on concrete use cases, which have contributed a great deal to the Label’s improvement. This will help ensure that the Label is fit for purpose when it becomes fully operational.

In addition to the work on the Label Catalogue, SDI has worked on the communication and visualization of the Label. Together with a market research firm, SDI conducted a user study in Switzerland, USA, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. This international investigation tested mechanics and determine success factors of such a Label from the customer's perspective. The end-result is the value proposition from a user’s perspective.

After more than one and half years invested in the co-creation process, SDI is now looking for a Swiss- or international-based implementation partner.

All this effort, particularly its openly interactive character, has allowed the Label to be defined clearly to the ecosystem it concerns at every stage of its development.

That all important co-development process in association with consumers, civil society representatives, service providers, technical experts and government, will never end. Because ongoing partnerships and mutually beneficial relationships form the bonds upon which trust in the digital realm depends.

Partnerships and co-creation

Expert Committee

Work and recommendations by a Label Expert Committee. The Committee’s work is coordinated by the EPFL Center for Digital Trust (C4DT). The members of the Committee are:

  • Yaniv Benhamou, Attorney-at-Law, Lecturer (Intellectual property and privacy), University of Geneva
  • Prof. Dr. Abraham Bernstein, Departement of Informatics, Director Digital Society Initiative, University of Zurich
  • Nikki Böhler, Managing Director, OpenData.ch
  • Francesca Bosco, Senior Advisor, Cyber Capacity and Foresight, CyberPeace Institute
  • Stéphanie Borg Psaila, Digital Policy Director, DiploFoundation
  • Christophe Hauert, Lecturer University of Lausanne, Co-Founder Cybersafe Label
  • Prof. Dr. Jean-Pierre Hubaux, Full Professor Laboratory for Data Security, EPFL
  • Carla Hustedt, Senior Project Manager, Bertelsmann Foundation
  • Dr. Patrick Schaller, Senior Scientist, System Security Group, ETH
  • Florian Schütz, Federal Cyber Security Delegate
  • Jean-Christophe Schwaab, Fédération Romande des Consommateurs
  • Martin Steiger, Attorney and entrepreneur for law in the digital space, founder of Steiger Legal

Test Partners

Axa, Canton Vaud, SBB, Swiss Re, Credit Suisse, Booking, IBM Switzerland, Swisscom.

Label Supporters

Stiftung Mercator Schweiz
Swiss Confederation

Download the documents:

Recommendations of the Label Expert Committee - Executive Summary

Recommendations of the Experts Committee

Report on Test Partners Mock Audits

Report on the Co-Development Process