EFF ‘Who Has Your Back’ report standouts, for better or worse: Apple, Yahoo, Amazon, Snapchat

Who has your back? When the Electronic Frontier Foundation last year released its rankings of how tech companies respond to government requests for user data, the Edward Snowden leaks were a month away from revealing to the world the scope of NSA spying. So the EFF says this year’s rankings are “even more important” amid “real questions about the government’s ability to access to the information we entrust to social networking sites and webmail providers.”

First, the good. Apple and Yahoo were most improved. We wrote last year that the two Silicon Valley giants scored only one out of six stars. This year, they earned six stars, which means they: Require a warrant for content of communications; tell users about government data requests; publish transparency reports; publish law enforcement guidelines; fight for users’ privacy rights in courts; and publicly oppose mass surveillance.

Other companies that earned six stars: Facebook, Google, Twitter, Dropbox, Microsoft, Sonic and CREDO Mobile. Last year, only Twitter and Bay Area-based Internet service provider Sonic got six stars.

Now, the bad. Amazon and AT&T got only two stars. Snapchat, which earlier this month reached a settlement with the FTC over its privacy promises that included photos and messages that disappeared shortly after being sent, earned only one star.

The following companies were ranked in the report for the first time this year: Adobe, Internet Archive, Lookout, Pinterest, Snapchat, Wickr, and Wikimedia.

The rankings are below; the full report, which includes details about each company, is at the EFF website.

The EFF report could help people make decisions about the companies they choose to do business with, but it’s important to note the limitations of the stars. For example, it’s become quite the trend for companies to release transparency reports, but what they’re legally allowed to disclose in terms of government requests for user data is limited. On the other hand, the EFF notes that a lack of a star doesn’t necessarily mean a company doesn’t defend users’ rights in court, for example. It’s that the company may not have had the need to.

And while the report may inspire companies to do better on protecting their users’ information, they can only do so much if the reports that the government scoops up data without the companies’ knowledge are true.

Illustration at top from MCT archives; graphic above from EFF


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  • koconor100

    Everyone of them a US Corperation.
    Everyone of them *REQUIRED* to do whatever the NSA orders or they all get thrown in jail.
    Everyone of them *REQUIRED* to lie about it after wards, or 10 years gets tacked onto their sentence.

    Fluff article. Totally meaningless.