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Transparency and responsiveness

Wired has an article about the U.S. government's lack of a transparent, responsive process for individuals who are on the terrorist watch list to request removal if they are innocent. According to the article, even the process they do have, which only addresses a subset of the people affected, has resolved only half of its cases since February. Others are left confused, with little information about the process or the individual's current status.

BBC columnist Bill Thompson recently raised questions about the responsiveness of StopBadware's own review process that helps site owners flagged by Google get their sites removed from Google's list. He even suggested that perhaps the authorities should be the ones keeping a URL blacklist and managing the appeals process.

Apart from the jurisdictional issues, which Mr. Thompson acknowledges as being a show-stopper, the example set by the U.S. government isn't exactly an encouraging sign for the future of a government-run blacklist.

At StopBadware, we believe that transparency and responsiveness are key to the success of our efforts. This is why we explain our review process in our FAQ. It's why anyone who submits a request for review of their site can return to our site at any time while the review is in progress to see its status. And it's why the average time for a review to be completed is under three days (typically shorter for sites that are, in fact, clean when they are submitted for review and a bit longer for those that are not).

There's still more to be done, of course. We encourage all security vendors and blacklist providers to offer a transparent and responsive process. We continue to improve our own process and communications to provide the most information as clearly and quickly as possible. And, over the next several months, we'll be doing even more to involve the community in our efforts.

Meanwhile, millions of users are being protected from badware every day, all without the bureaucracy that often comes with government security efforts.