The Online Trust Alliance is an initiative within the Internet Society (ISOC), a global non-profit with the mission to promote the open development, evolution, and use of the Internet for the benefit of all people throughout the world. OTA’s mission is to enhance online trust, user empowerment and innovation through convening multi-stakeholder initiatives, developing and promoting best practices, ethical privacy practices and data stewardship. Formed 25-years ago, ISOC focuses on the pillars of expanding access and promoting online trust. ISOC facilitates open development of standards, protocols, administration, and the technical infrastructure of the Internet, 2) Serves as a focal point for cooperative efforts to promote the Internet as a positive tool to benefit all people throughout the world and 3) Provides management and coordination for on-strategy initiatives and outreach efforts in humanitarian, educational, societal, and other contexts.
Formed as an informal industry working group in 2005, in 2007 OTA was recognized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as a501c6 trade organization. In 2012 the IRS re-classified OTA as a 501c3 charitable organization. OTA is now an initiative within the Internet Society (ISOC). Effective October 2017, the OTA as a free standing and independent organization was formally dissolved with the majority of assets transferring to ISOC.
OTA goals include:
- Help educate businesses, policy makers and stakeholders while developing and advancing best practices and tools to enhance the protection of users' security, privacy and identity.
- Supports collaborative public-private partnerships, benchmark reporting, meaningful self-regulation and data stewardship.
- Promote data sharing and collaboration through working groups, training and committees.
- Sponsors include individuals, technology leaders, social networks, ecommerce, financial institutions, service providers, government agencies and industry organizations.
- OTA is a member of leading organizations committed to collaboration, law enforcement and data sharing.
Organization & History
Faced with increasing levels of spam and deceptive email, in early 2004, a group of business, industry and marketing leaders led by Epsilon Interactive, Email Senders and Provider Coalition (ESPC), The Direct Marketing Association, Microsoft, Symantec and Sendmail began meeting to pursue solutions to authenticate email and improve user confidence. Following the FTC Authentication Summit in October 2004, a decision was made to take decisive action to advance authenticated email, and in July 2005, the first Email Authentication Summit was hosted in New York City. Underwritten by over three dozen industry and business leaders, this premier event was sold out with over 450 attendees. Responding to industry and governmental input, the alliance moved forward developing tools and resources, hosting the second Authentication & Reputation Summit in Chicago in April 2006. Once again the Summit was a sell-out with over 500 attendees, followed with the successful two-day Summit in Boston in April 2007, expanding the scope to online trust and confidence.
In September 2007, the Authentication and Online Trust Alliance (AOTA) was formed as an IRS and Washington State approved non-profit organization. In June 2008, AOTA hosted our 4th Summit in Seattle Washington and added an email academy to improve professional competencies. In March 2009, the Board of Directors and Steering Committee voted to change the name to the Online Trust Alliance, (OTA), representing a broader global view of the issues impacting consumer trust and online brand reputation, including privacy, identity theft and internet governance.
Reflecting OTA's activities, mission statement and long-term commitment to education and activities for the betterment of all internet, on August 20, 2012, the OTA Board of Directors unanimously approved the application to the IRS for 501c3 non-profit status. In December 2013, the IRS approved OTA's application retroactive to September 12, 2012.