Since former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden brought to light the agency’s online surveillance practices, online privacy has been a big concern. As a result, technology companies have changed how to handle user data, but which companies are looking out for the best interest of their users?
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) tried to answer that question in its recently released fourth annual “Who Has Your Back?” report, ranking the trustworthiness of technology companies.
“Our report charts objectively verifiable categories of how tech companies react when the government seeks user data, so users can make informed decisions about which companies they should trust with their information,” said Rainey Reitman, EFF’s director of activism.
(Related: A privacy-conscious programming language)
The report ranked technology companies on six criteria: Whether or not a company requires a warrant for content of communications; tells users about government data requests; publishes transparency reports; publishes law enforcement guidelines; fights for users’ privacy rights in courts; and fights against mass surveillance in Congress.
“We entrust our most sensitive, private and important information to technology companies like Google, Facebook and Verizon,” said the report. “Collectively, these companies are privy to the conversations, photos, social connections, and location data of almost everyone online. The choices these companies make affect the privacy of every one of their users.”
Among the 26 companies evaluated, Snapchat was found to be the least trustworthy, only meeting one of the six criteria. Adobe, Amazon, AT&T, Comcast and MySpace followed Snapchat, only meeting two or three of the six criteria.
“Snapchat joins AT&T and Comcast in failing to require a warrant for government access to the content of communications,” said Nate Cardozo, EFF staff attorney. “That means the government can obtain extraordinarily sensitive information about your activities and communications without convincing a judge that there is probable cause to collect it. We urge these companies to change course and give their users this simple and needed protection from government overreach.”
Apple, CREDO Mobile, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sonic.net, Twitter and Yahoo all scored six out of six criteria.
The full report can be found here.