We are working on developing the first Digital Trust Label that denotes the trustworthiness of a digital service in clear, visual and plain, non-technical language for everyone to understand. With the Label, consumers can be assured of the trustworthiness of the digital service they consume.
The Digital Trust Label will be a combination of a bio Label and nutrition fact table for the digital world. The Label shows that mandatory criteria are fulfilled by a digital service, while at the same time giving users more information and transparency about four dimensions of the digital service:
There is a crisis of confidence in new technologies. Pragmatic and practical solutions are needed to restore trust and to enable us to benefit from new technologies. Competition between tech giants is intensifying and the perception of digital services is shifting. People are feeling more and more insecure about what happens with their data and any background mechanisms involved when using digital services, such as automated-decision making processes that are often not visible to users.
Our Digital Trust Label denotes the trustworthiness of a digital service. Our definition of digital service is aligned with the official definition by the European Commission. Digital services include a large category of online services, from simple websites to internet infrastructure services and online platforms. Digital services come in many forms and are omnipresent.
We are expecting certifiable services in three categories: low complexity services (e.g. newsletter subscription), medium complexity services (e.g. instant messaging apps) and high complexity services (e.g. AI-based medical services).
Trust in a digital service is especially important in cases where users are asked to provide sensitive data and where algorithmic decisions are taken that could have significant impacts for the users. Possible examples:
Digital Trust cannot be defined by one actor alone, but can only be the result of the close collaboration of all relevant actors: academia, civil society, consumer protection, the private and public sector. This is why the SDI involved all relevant stakeholders in the development and made the criteria and development process as transparent as possible.
The Label is understood as an ongoing and collaborative effort to strengthen trust in a digital service through increased understanding and transparency. While other organizations around the globe are pursuing similar initiatives, SDI and its Digital Trust Label are the most developed initiative from 50+ similar initiatives worldwide as a study revealed.
The Label development is an iterative process, hence, it will be continuously developed. In 2021, a first Label will be released focussing on whether a digital service meets our mandatory criteria or not. In 2022 this will be expanded to also show details for the four dimensions.
More transparency and information:
Users will receive transparent information on how a digital service is, for example, handling their user information. Users will also be informed whether the digital service relies on an automated decision making mechanism to better understand potential impacts of the digital service they use.
Users will receive relevant information about technology and digital services in plain language, free of technical jargon and corporate speak.
Through the Digital Trust Label, users will be empowered with the knowledge and confidence to make informed choices about the digital services they want to use.
Competitive advantage through credible trustworthiness:
By agreeing to an audit as part of the certification process for the Digital Trust Label, organizations send a strong signal to their users about the trustworthiness of their digital services. The Digital Trust Label makes digital services comparable and opens the opportunity for organizations to aspire to achieve an ambitious rating, leading to a competitive advantage.
Serving increasing user demands:
Organizations using the Digital Trust Label signal a recognition that trust has to be earned, as technology, consumer expectations and business opportunities evolve. The Label puts the user at the heart of the business and therefore serves user centricity.
Facilitating regulatory compliance:
The regulatory landscape for digital technologies is rapidly evolving and not always in a coordinated and clear fashion. This can leave companies struggling to conduct business in compliance with complex new rules. Receiving a certification that is based on a solid assessment can significantly help companies in navigating the new regulatory landscape.
Our Label Expert Committee (LEC) is dedicated to working on the label catalogue criteria and formulates label recommendations to the SDI Board.
The LEC consists on average of 10 experts from academia, economy, data and consumer protection, legal, human rights and digital ethics to represent a diverse and inclusive expert view.
The LEC’s work is coordinated by the EPFL Center for Digital Trust (C4DT).
Seven test partners from the public and private sector are involved in the project to pilot the criteria:
AXA, Canton Vaud, SwissRe, Credit Suisse, Booking.com, IBM Switzerland and Swisscom
Two supporters make the label development possible:
Stiftung Mercator Schweiz and the Swiss Confederation