A recent report by the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has concluded that companies like Apple, MySpace, Yahoo, and Verizon do very little to protect consumer’s data.
The EFF has compiled its annual report entitled “Who Has Your Back? 2013″, highlighting some of the major technology companies that do a good or bad job at protecting consumers’ data from government access. As part of the report, they rate each company based on the following six criteria:
- Require a warrant for content of communications. In this new category, companies earn recognition if they require the government to obtain a warrant supported by probable cause before they will hand over the content of user communications. This policy ensures that private messages stored by online services like Facebook, Google, and Twitter are treated consistently with the protections of the Fourth Amendment.
- Tell users about government data requests. To earn a star in this category, Internet companies must promise to tell users when the government seeks their data unless prohibited by law. This gives users a chance to defend themselves against overreaching government demands for their data.
- Publish transparency reports. They award companies a star in this category if they publish statistics on how often they provide user data to the government.
- Publish law enforcement guidelines. Companies get a star in this category if they make public policies or guidelines they have explaining how they respond to data demands from the government, such as guides for law enforcement.
- Fight for users’ privacy rights in courts. To earn recognition in this category, companies must have a public record of resisting overbroad government demands for access to user content in court.
- Fight for users’ privacy in Congress. Internet companies earn a star in this category if they support efforts to modernize electronic privacy laws to defend users in the digital age by joining the Digital Due Process Coalition.
This year they examined 18 major companies, including ISPs, email providers, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites.
Some of the top performing firms include Twitter, Sonic, SpiderOak, Dropbox, LinkedIn, and Google. Surprisingly, Facebook has made some attempt to stop the government from easily walking over them (not like they did it willingly), but they definitely rank above companies like Apple, AT&T, Verizon, and Yahoo. The four mentioned companies don’t tell users when they fork over data to the feds, and while Apple and AT&T fight for privacy only at the congress level, Verizon appears to be a walkover when it comes to giving up data to the government.
[Cover Photo: TRUSTe Blog]