Humane Technology Certification project

This topic is related to Global award for Human Technology

It would be great if this community could clearly define what constitutes humane technology and then compile a checklist and set of best-practices from that for website and app developers to take into account.

Additonally these sites/apps should then be rated according to this checklist… and maybe recorded in a set of ‘praising vs. naming+shaming’ pages, similar to the App Ratings page, but maintained by community contributors or even the wider public.

Finally, the top performers on the list, the most humane tech examples, would be allowed to proudly display a badge/logo on their landing page or within the app: Humane Technology. This logo links back to their position in the overall list.
The logo program could have several bagdes, maybe Bronze, Silver, Gold, or 2-star, 3-star depending on how well they are aligned with the checklist.

The global award for humane tech could then be based on an election by internet users from the top 10 or 50 or so entries in the list.

Wrt the checklist… it will contain things like:

  • Human-readable, comprehensible privacy policy
  • Clear Code of ethics present
  • Data collection policy, what’s collected, how its used
  • Privacy-first design, all privacy settings are opt-in
  • All notifications can be switched off
  • Offline modes present
  • Non-distracting UX design
  • etcetera



Precisely! How do we start a team to make a solid proposal? Looks like that many people think and believe that such “award” can highlight and bring awareness. Happy to read this post! you are taking the idea to the next level!


With this forum we do not have a proper working environment to push this forward… there are 2 threads (Humane Tech Community Roadmap 2018? and Goals, implementation, and progress) requesting insight in plans and additional tools from the community.

Until they are available I could create a Github project where anyone willing to participate can join, and we can elaborate the plans, brainstorm on content structure and draw up texts and such. This would be in markdown format (the same format used to create posts here), which can then later on be transfered to other tools when they become available…

This thread and the award thread can be used to keep the rest of the community up-to-date on progress.

Edit: I created an example of how this would look like in Github:

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In addition to the checklist and compliance check we could draft a Humane Technology Pledge and corresponding logo for companies, nonprofits and institutions that like to commit themselves to the creation and spreading of Humane Technology…

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These are good ideas-- my hope is that humane tech goes beyond privacy policies to embody an ethos that includes thinking about how technology meets the needs of people employing it, not just the companies building tech. I don’t think they are mutually exclusive, but what does it look like to focus on human goals, and how much “opinion” should developers have about what is “good for” the people using technology.


I am fully with you on that @laurex!

One doesn’t have to be a futurologist to see that tech - and the problems that come with it as stated by this community - will become much more pervasive in the near future. The problem is huge and solving it is an equally humongous task. For that reason I started the topic “What constitutes Humane Technology wrt this community?”.

I think this community needs to be broader positioned, and we need the full spectrum of tools, technologies, methodologies, activism, marketing, etc. that is available to us. Otherwise this community will only solve stuff for those that are already well aware of the problem and are willing to change. Our best solution then will be cutting ourselves off from tech, which will become harder and harder.

What we do need is a strategic approach involving tech, tech ethics, business ethics, transparency, privacy, security, parenting, cultural, societal and lifestyle changes and yes, maybe even… (probably) better economic models! So yes, we need that ethos :slight_smile:

BTW With regards to privacy… I find this is often an undervalued aspect, seen as a side-issue. But it is central to much of the stated problem. We keep giving away our private, personal data to anyone who wants it. With that we let others (potentially) know us better than we do know ourselves, and to exploit that knowledge to the full extent. This is what most of the business models of the big social media platforms (and big tech in general) are based upon.

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Hi all, sorry to jump in just like this (I’ve just joined the community) but shouldn’t we bare in mind that, i.e. language and books are humane technologies too… Or is this ’ humane technology’ approach solely a digital one?

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Hi @Rui, sorry for being a bit late to respond. There is another thread that discusses what is in scope of ‘humane technology’ regarding this community: What constitutes Humane Technology wrt this community?

FYI While this is not for the logo program, for the awesome-humane-tech list on Github I have created a Humane Tech badge for display on the repositories that are included in the list. Currently it looks like this:

Humane Tech


Love this. There’s the beginnings of it. I have a doc where I’ve been collecting apps/services to be evaluated for how well they deliver upon humane design, or at times a net positive human metric, etc. To be honest as the focus of CHT has become more about the more immediate threats posed by the state of tech, i.e. protecting democracy and upholding the pillars of society, this has fallen by the wayside a bit. It’s absolutely something I think can be a great community project in the future to help test, vote, decide new categories etc. but it’s also going to need some guidance from Tristan & team. I always go from thinking “We can let everybody figure it out…” to having a conversation with him, seeing some of the documents he’s started and then thinking “Whoa he’s studied the bajeezus out of this and it needs to be done in a very specific way.” Sorry for the speed here, there only being one Tristan is a genuine pain point of this movement.


The community’s dependence on Tristan has been cited before as a stumbling block. Is there any way to clone him? That would be a good humane-tech project :wink:

Ha ha, now cloning is a whole different ball game :smile:

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This is the thread that I am looking for! I think it is so important to have a centralized place for creators. When you being a project it starts here and people can build from the ground up with these principles in mind. Given that we are in HIGH TIDE of this problem, front and center media attention, I’m desperately looking for validation on a project I am working on. How do creators make a proposal so that the community can help iron it out and poke holes in it?

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We can turn this idea in an active project again. The way we work at HTC is to facilitate projects based on interest of members willing to work on them. All our projects are fully crowdsourced. If the activity wanes, then the project goes ‘on hold’ (that is okay then… it is principle of mindfulness).

I can move this thread to the ‘Solutions Program’ category, and create an accompanying ‘wiki post’ (a post that anyone can edit), so that we can flesh out the project a bit more. Then we have the github repository issue tracker to discuss details, and the Community Hub Projects where we can place results (for now, but this can also be a completely separate location in future, like or something).

@jaedaemon, do you have specific ideas wrt a certification program?

I renamed this topic from “Idea - Humane Technology Logo Program” to “Humane Technology Certification project”

As I see it there are three levels to possible certification:

  1. Public judgment - The way in which anyone can gauge the adherence to Humane Tech best-practices, based on the public profile of a business (i.e. from their website, products and services)
  2. Advertised compliance - The way in which a company itself can take measures to become more Humane Tech compliant and based on that - via Public Relations and marketing - advertises that publicly
  3. Audited compliance - Where an independent agency verifies and monitors compliance levels and gives assurances about the level of compliance e.g. via official certificates, Logo’s and/or Awards.

For all of these 3 levels we can investigate and collect the best-practices, chararteristics and materials that are needed. For level 1) we can set up a crowdsourced website section where people can add their own review. For level 2) and 3) we can compile packages and there are opportunities for consultancy agencies to use them, and we should encourage improvement to the body of knowledge we collect.

In the previous forum organization we had a category Exemplar of Humane Technology and we can make this part oft his project too, where the exemplars are actively promoted by the HTC as prime examples for other companies to follow.

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@aschrijver this is fantastic way to break it down. Some questions:

  1. on public judgment: Do you mean this is a list of things that we provide the world as a checklist that they can then apply to a would-be product or company’s public profile? I like it, its definitely public, but not sure about the “judgement” word. Something that encapsulates, “This company has thought through the humane tech implications of their product and have affirmative states or listed their values or principles in a public fashion”. It enabled the public to create a “judgement” but this is surface level.
  2. on advertised compliance - seems kind of similar to #1… it’s the way in which the would be company or product states publicly what are their practices and how they go about creating tech in a humane fashion. It is “Advertised” because they may or may not actually be following their statements.
  3. on audited compliance - Ultimately this is the only way to ensure that organizations are compliant. For companies where this really matters, getting a certification and special Humane Technology logo or so badge makes a ton of sense, I like it!

Maybe there’s some way to collapse #1 and #2 together so there are only two things companies and would be products need to consider:

#1. Declared Principles - Company has followed the checklist provided by Humane Tech org and is able to check off some percentage (80%?) of all the requirements needed to be compliant. This is only verified by the company publishing its declared principles / best practices, perhaps even publishing the results of their checklist. – This is a self-service process that any company can pick up and run with. But for the true believers:

#2. Humane Tech Certification - Just as you say, independent agency verifies and monitors compliance. The challenge would be how to setup, enforce this and probably where most of the Humane Tech investment would need to go to be successful. #1 is a community driven and can be done quickly and iteratively (time to market is key here!) while #2 would be much heavier lifting, would require investment and development over a period of time.

Thank you @aschrijver let me know how I can help. Time is of the essence!

I made that division, because I think the project consists of 3 separate parts, that can be implemented more or less independently of each other.

Re: Public judgment. Yes, your description is accurate. It is the way in which the public is able to review the practices of a business without the help or even knowledge of the business itself. Judging from the outside. The reviews thus collected would serve other potential users / customers to inform themselves. Very similar to what you see in e.g. the Appstore or Google Play, but more specific than just a 4-star rating.

The checklist for the public tries to provide insights on: “Does the company have a privacy policy?”, “Is the privacy policy clear and easy to understand?”, “Does the company provide my PII to 3rd-parties?”, “Does the website contain trackers?”, “Does the App contain trackers?”, “Is the revenue model of the company clear?”

The company can also answer these questions themselves, so the questions are part of “Declared principles”, but these then go further with e.g. ethics compliance, fair work scores, diversity policy, etc.

Based on “public judgment” we could already design a label / logo that has e.g. a color ranging from red to green, and a score shown within. But this would not provide certification.

Humane Tech Certification, as you say, would be very challenging to set up. I think here - on the short term - the community can only provide guidance for others to set this up. There is a niche here where consultants and new businesses can jump in to provide this. On the longer term the HTC can be the authoritative source of “Declared principles” and “Auditing the auditors” e.g. provide a directory of trusted auditors and consultants.

But this whole project starts with collecting information for the checklists. I created a Wiki post for brainstorming:

Brainstorm: Creating Checklists for Humane Tech Certification (editable wiki post)


‘Transparency’ (and privacy, security too) is possible only if the the apps (if server is involved, server app too) is released under a libre license either under FSF approved or at least OSI approved licenses. We cannot certify something based on developer’s promises alone. “trust us because you can trust us” doesn’t work, doesn’t make sense and is a major reason why we have these problems. Libre licensing should be a requirement.

Proprietary softwares/services - another major reason why we ended up with the current problems we aim to solve. If we replace one proprietary app X with another proprietary service or app Y, now we have to TWO things to worry about and it will not really be an ethical HT replacement.

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