Trust, identity, privacy, information commerce:

A look at ITEGA’s values, principles and priorities

News organizations, in their struggle to monetize their content, have allowed large tech platforms to continually track, compare, and aggregate data about their readers, often without their knowledge or consent. Advertising is placed, viewed and billed by algorithms that can’t distinguish humans from “bots” or slap-dash fake news sites from the real thing. All of this reduces the ability of news publishers to generate revenue and degrades public trust in the Internet.

The solution to the trust crisis centers around protecting the privacy of individuals and increasing the ability of news outlets to monetize their content. News outlets must reinvent themselves as a safe place for people to read the news they want and view advertising that’s relevant to them without worrying about being swarmed by an army of invisible data collectors. 

There is currently no trusted standards body to help facilitate data exchange in a way that transparently and consistently respects privacy, protects user identities, reduces ad fraud, and improves the value of anonymized user data sets. 

A new vision

ITEGA envisions the Internet as a global marketplace for information and ideas that is guided by democratic values such as privacy and free speech. In this vision, individuals can manage their identity and personal data without sacrificing their privacy and content producers can monetize without losing value and autonomy to private platforms.

ITEGA is: 

  • Creating a sustainable marketplace for the trusted exchange of information between users and content providers on the Internet by establishing ethical standards and rules for the trustee exchange of user data and user identities.

  • Supporting the development of user-centered technologies that allow trusted data exchange and user authentication. 

 ITEGA is an independent steward of the public interest and, as such, is committed to inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability.

Guiding  principles 

ITEGA is guided in designing, supporting and sanctioning technologies and systems by these principles: 

Public benefit. ITEGA is a charitable, nonprofit, public-benefit corporation operating by law for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole. The guidance and governance of NewsSSO, and the integrity of its technical implementation, serve the public first. 

Sharing as value. Minimally sharing encrypted, privacy-guarded sign-on information across news sites is mutually advantageous to all stakeholders when understood and authorized by an individual. 

Privacy Priority. Individuals have a priority right to significant control over the creation, deletion, exchange and use of personal identifying data (PII). 

Platform accountability. Services operating within the ITEGA ecosystem are accountable to, and supportive of, participatory democracy and inclusive communities. They support truth and facts, calling out and de-prioritizing falsehoods. 

Unique identity.  An individual’s globally unique identifier should not be exchanged in the clear among participating services. This will inhibit the tracking of an individual’s behavior across the web. Personalization is accomplished via “first-party” relationships or via services which rely upon anonymized data cohorts devoid of PII. 

Data Acquisition. When a data controller acquires PII from an individual as a controller or processor, the practice must conform to laws and to  ITEGA’s member and network rules for use, exchange, retention and deletion.

News, truth and data. Data has value. For many organizations, acquiring and exchanging value for data about people is a business. ITEGA recognizes and supports this, but places a higher priority on the use of data and truths to sustain the values, principles and purposes of journalism, as well as the integrity of individual rights. 

An individual’s ‘value’.  Verified readers, viewers, listeners and contributors of news inherently are seen as “valuable” to marketers.  ITEGA accepts a responsibility to safeguard their identities for both legal and ethical reasons. 

Inclusive membership. Data fiduciaries, processors, publishers, brands, institutions, individuals and other entities are admitted to membership in ITEGA, entitled to display its band and use an ITEGA global network identifier, without discrimination so long as they abide by ITEGA’s member and exchange rules.

RELATED DOCUMENT:  A statement of privacy values presented Jan. 15-16, 2019 in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the ITEGA-LMC gathering: “Trust, Advertising and Data Privacy — Seeking a New Balance.” 

Our priorities 

Itega’s role is to be a new steward. What’s going to be really important in the information ecology is identity and identity management. That means understanding who is tracking your behavior as an individual on the web — who you are allowing to track and who knows what about you. 

ITEGA’s role is to help news organizations to understand their role in that data stew, and help them in their relationship with the user when it comes to that user’s web behavior and identity.  

Whether the news org is the Texas Tribune, The New York Times or a one-person local news blog,  how they interact with Suzy or Bill or Jasmine — how they react to a person coming to their news site —  is going to be governed by rules that ITEGA’s members develop in the public interest. Facilitating that is one of ITEGA’s key roles. 

ITEGA is going to be in a middle space — a trusted third party. ITEGA will not be in charge of data — it is not a data controller. All the data will be held by the person themselves — or by the most-favored home base (an “Identity Service Provider — IdSP” or home base). The news organization is the data controller as an agent — a fiduciary – of their end user. ITEGA is not involved with the data. And ITEGA is only going to be involved with news and general information.  It is not going to enable  data exchange across banking, or health care or whatever. Other entities may emerge to help manage identity in those spheres.  Together, these “stewards” — ITEGA and other trusted third parties, can operate as a global  “ICANN for identity” — somewhat like the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

We know what ITEGA is, and we can stay in our lane. During this COVID-19 crisis our role is to work behind the scenes. As news organizations come out of the crisis there is going to be a huge amount of money to help news organizations establish their business.  When news orgs are not just trying to survive but are trying. ITEGA has to be there to support them and help get to the new Internet. Our role is to build up SSO and identity management and privacy-aware user behavior — as we slowly emerge from the virus we can be really supportive.

The outcome that we really want to see and we believe we can move forward is that newsrooms will have stronger, more diversified revenue, a better relationship with the people who come and use their information —  and will have built better bonds of trust with those users.


We are already good at articulating value to publishers but it is less clear if we have mapped it, then we need to create the story about it — what is different in the world of a reader of the Minneapolis Star Tribune in the post COVID world where ITEGA is up and running? I may not know what ITEGA is, but how does it give me a deeper relationship with my local news organization. Why is it significantly deeper now than it was before?

We are drawn to the questions of building trust and empathy with the user.  We are defining the scope of a usability study of the NewsSSO project,  to understand what a person’s understanding of SSO and what they want — and will — get out of it.  A lot of our work has been about the news organization not the user and it is time to start turning that around and what they are going to want and need.