updated 12:14 pm EDT, Wed May 1, 2013
Report scores tech companies on protecting user data from the government
An annual report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has declared that Twitter and Sonic.net are the best tech companies for protecting its users from government snooping and requests from courts and law enforcement. Out of the 18 companies examined in the report, MySpace and Verizon were judged the worst, failing to score a single star in any category, while Apple, AT&T, and Yahoo managed to attain at least one star out of a possible six.
The "Who Has Your Back?" report examines the terms of service, privacy policies, advocacy, and courtroom actions of the monitored companies, and awards stars in categories such as "Requiring a warrant for content," "Publishes transparency reports," and "Fights for users' privacy rights in courts." Sonic.net and Twitter scored the maximum possible score of six stars, while the five-star group included Dropbox, Google, LinkedIn, and Spideroak. Apple and AT&T both scored their only star in the category titled "Fights for users' privacy rights in Congress," and Yahoo succeeded in the companion category for fighting in courts. Of the remainder, Microsoft scored four stars, and Facebook received three.
EFF staff attorney Nate Cardozo suggests that, though there's a lot to celebrate in the report itself, things could be better. "Service providers hold huge amounts of our personal data, and the government shouldn't be able to fish around in this information without good reason and a court making sure there's no abuse," said Cardozo, before calling the report a "wake-up call to Internet users" to make sure their data is protected by the services they use.