|Online policy research, outreach, and action on issues such as access, privacy, defamation, and the digital divide.|
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Research: Online Service Provider Assessment Project
The goal of the Online Service Provider Assessment (OSPA) project is to determine how fair, accurate, and inclusive online service providers are with respect to a variety of content topics and constituent communities.
The first online service provider surveyed by the OSPA project was America Online (AOL) and the first topic area was lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) content. Currently, the Alan Turing Program is expanding the LGBT portion of the OSPA project to other online service providers. The Online Policy Group is also expanding the OSPA project to other program areas, such as disabled, elderly, health (including HIV, AIDS, and cancer), race / ethnicity, women (including reproductive rights), and youth.
The expanded OSPA methodology provides a standard means for testing online services and determining how they treat certain types of content and constituents. The methodology was originally developed by Will Doherty while at GLAAD; you can view the initial methodology on GLAAD's web site. Thanks to GLAAD for providing the initial funding to initiate this project.
Volunteer programmers have developed open source software utilities to assist with various aspects of the research and these utilities are available to the general public in order to encourage further research.
Reports summarizing the findings from the application of this methodology to online service providers will be prepared. Once enough online service providers have been analyzed using a similar methodology, it will become possible to compare the conditions of use for the various communities on a variety online service providers and to make recommendations to the online service providers about improvements to the online experience of their constituencies. By reading special summary reports, consumers may make decisions about which online service providers will best provide the content they seek.
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