We had reported about the lawsuit against Web of Trust (WOT) last week and had mentioned that we will be inquiring Vesa Perälä, CEO of WOT about the same. While talking about the lawsuit alone would have been a repetition, hence we thought of providing a well rounded information on WOT as well. I was quite impressed with its growth, its community is expected to grow to 50 million by the end of the current year.
ArcticStartup (AS): Web of Trust – what does this signify? Is it a community on the Web that keeps growing to ensure safe browsing?
Vesa Perälä: Web of Trust (WOT) is the leading community boosting trust on the web. We have close to 20 million users who actively rate websites from four different perspectives: trustworthiness, privacy, vendor reliability and child safety. Our goal is to make Internet a safer place for everyone.
AS: How does WOT monitor ratings or is it totally reliant on its community?
Vesa Perälä: There are two components in the rating system: user ratings and information received from our over 100 trusted partners. The latter group consists of validated companies and organizations (e.g. VeriSign, PhisTank, TRUSTe, several anti-virus companies etc) maintaining e.g. black lists of malicious web sites. WOT reputation algorithm takes both components into account and calculates a reputation for every web site in the system every 30 minutes. We have currently over 31 million web sites rated this way
AS: Have there been previous lawsuits against WOT? Is this one any different?
Vesa Perälä: We do get threatened on regular basis but this is the first lawsuit in the history of WOT. This is a clear sign that our system is effective and scares e.g. scammers.
AS: There was a recent lawsuit against you by 10 companies based in the US, pointing that it has violated rights and manipulating algorithms – What exactly is this supposed to mean?
Vesa Perälä: The plaintiffs claim that we are manipulating our algorithms and teaming up with some community members to harm their online reputation. This is totally baseless. WOT provides tools for rating web sites based on one’s own experiences. As a company, we do not rate nor comment anyone’s activities.
AS: You mentioned that WOT’s advocacy will base on the article CDA 230 – what is article CDA 230 and how does this help WOT?
Vesa Perälä: CDA 230 (Communications Decency Act from 1996) exists to support freedom of speech, cultural, political and religious diversity as well as commerce online. According to CDA 230, web service providers such as WOT are not responsible for the content created by 3rd parties although it is published on the provider’s web site. There are also similar laws in EU and Finland protecting service and hosting providers (Directive 2000/31/EC and Finnish Act on the Provision of Information Society Services (458/2002).
AS. Given that this lawsuit is just another one, how is WOT growing otherwise? What are the plans for 2011?
Vesa Perälä. WOT is doing great. Our community is growing fast (over 30,000 new uses every day) and we expect to reach 50 million users by the end of 2011.
In terms of commercial operations, WOT grew some 3000% in 2010 and we expect the growth to continue in 2011 as well. We have recently secured some very interesting deals with world leading companies and will be able to tell more about these in a few weeks. These deals will have a great positive impact on general Internet safety.