U.S. Government Tops Web Privacy Audit

There is good news on the privacy front from the Internet Society’s Online Trust Alliance (OTA).

A full 70% of the 1,200 mostly consumer-facing websites studied now qualify for the OTA’s Honor Roll, according to the group’s tenth annual Online Trust Audit & Honor Roll. 

The report identifies “organizations that place a premium on security and privacy, while shining a light on the sectors that have to work harder to earn society’s trust,” states Jeff Wilbur, technical director of the OTA.

This year’s Honor Roll percentage is up from the 52% recorded in 2017. The OTA attributes the improvement to advances in email authentication and session encryption.

The Federal government is No. 1, with 91% of its sites making the Honor Roll, compared to 39% in 2017.

Consumer services, which had led the field last year, came in second this time around, with 83% qualifying for honors.



The worst score belongs to a new entry — the healthcare sector. It has 57% placement. Meanwhile, 63% of ISPs, carriers, hosters and email providers made the grade.

The News & Media: vertical, which now includes sports sites, has a 78% honor scores, a boost from 48% in 2017.  This rise is largely due to a near quadrupling of use of always-encrypted sessions. 

Banks are now up to 73%, a marked increase over the 27% reported in 2017. Internet retailers scored 63%, up from 51%.

Despite an improvement in email authentication in that category, privacy failures rose by almost 50% because of third-party data sharing.

On another front, 93% of the sites studied encrypt all web sessions, versus 52% two years ago.

In addition, email authentication has also improved, with 76% using SPF and DKIM — up from 48% in 2017, and 50% have adopted DMARC, compared with 34% previously.

Wilbur concludes that “almost every sector improved its security and privacy practices, and the record scores reflect that.”


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