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EDRi’s guidelines call for more ethical websites – Naked Security


Most of us want to be good online citizens. That includes developing websites that have their visitors’ best interests at heart. Yet there are so many ways to get that wrong. Even a slight misstep could put visitors’ privacy or security at risk, or exclude people that might be less able than others. How can you know if you’re doing it right?

Enter European Digital Rights (EDRi), a collection of human rights groups across Europe, which has published a set of guidelines for ethical website development. It explains:

The goal of the project, which started more than a year ago, was to provide guidance to developers on how to move away from third-party infected, data-leaking, unethical and unsafe practices.

The document lists recommendations covering areas including security and privacy while listing alternatives to free online services that slurp up users’ data.

One recommendation is to host your own resources as much as possible. That means avoiding call-outs for things like third-party cookies, and avoiding frames with third-party content. It also means avoiding call-outs for CSS files, images, font files, and JavaScript libraries.

The document adds:

If downloading a resource, such as a JavaScript or font file, is not allowed by the terms of its provider, then they may not be privacy-friendly and should therefore be avoided.

It calls out large tech firms as companies offering services that ethical web developers should avoid, and provides a list of alternatives in areas including analytics, video players, and online maps. It points readers to Prism Break, a list of alternative online services that don’t track their users.

When it comes to security, a site can use DNSSEC to authenticate DNS queries, says the doc, also recommending HTTPS. It also asks website owners to provide a Tor-compatible version of their site using the Tor publishing tool Onionshare.

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