The aim of this Communication was to draw up a commonly agreed set of simple quality criteria on which Member States, as well as public and private bodies, may draw in the development of quality initiatives for health-related websites.
There are six key criteria contained within the Communication:
- Transparency and honesty — which includes the clear communication of the name and address of the site managers, the purpose of the site, its target audience, and transparency of all sources of funding;
- Authority — involving a clear statement of sources for information, the date of publication, and the name and credentials of information providers;
- Privacy and data protection — sites should have a data protection policy for processing personal data in accordance with EU data protection legislation;
- Updating of information — clear and regular updating of the site and its contents with the details of updates clearly published on the relevant page;
- Accountability — includes a clearly defined editorial policy, a method for customer feedback, and appropriate oversight responsibility such as a quality compliance officer;
- Accessibility — attention to guidelines on physical accessibility as well as general findability, searchability, readability, and usability.
According to the document, these criteria can be used as the basis for development of user guides, voluntary codes of conduct, trustmarks, or accreditation systems at a European, national, or organizational level. The criteria should be applied in addition to the relevant Community law on consumer protection, advertising, data protection and medicinal products.