American consumer advocacy organisation the Consumers Union is launching a new division whose mission is to improve confidence in online retailers.

Branded Consumer Webwatch, the new unit is the result of its Web Credibility Project, which found that many consumers do not trust declarations by websites concerning privacy, prices and fraud protection.

The division will draw up a series of good-practice guidelines for online businesses and mark individual sites against its criteria. It wants internet firms to disclose more details concerning corporate identity, privacy policies, advertising and sponsorship, customer service and corrections.

The initial emphasis is on retail and information sites, with the focus expected to shift more towards retail in the future, due to the greater need for guidelines in this sector. The unit’s website is due to go online on Tuesday.

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff