Facebook, Google Or Yahoo: Which Internet Companies Protect User Privacy The Most?

A Report Ranks 18 Major Companies' Efforts To Fight Government Requests For Data

 @ryanWneal
on May 01 2013 4:37 PM

When it comes to protecting personal data from the government, Twitter does the best job at it among leading technology companies, according to a recent report, with Dropbox, Google and LinkedIn ranked just behind it.

MySpace and Verizon, on the other end of the spectrum, weren’t recognized at all for standing up to the government for users, while Yahoo, AT&T and Apple also received exceptionally low marks for protecting user data from the government.

EFF Ranking Of Internet Companies An EFF study ranked 18 major Internet companies for their commitment to protecting their users' privacy.  EFF

The annual report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, or EFF, examined 18 major Internet companies to see if they publicly commit to protecting users from government requests for users’ data. The companies included ISPs, email providers, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms and social networking sites.

The EFF gathered data from each company’s terms of service, privacy policy, transparency report and guidelines for handling requests. It also looked at each company’s public court record and contacted them to give them a chance to provide evidence of protecting users’ privacy.

The EFF report used six criteria to assess each company’s commitment to Internet privacy: requiring a warrant, telling users about government data requests, publishing transparency reports, publishing law enforcement guidelines, fighting for users’ privacy in courts and fighting for users’ privacy in Congress.

“The purpose of the [the] report is to incentivize companies to be transparent about how data flows to the government and encourage them to take a stand for user privacy whenever it is possible to do so,” the EFF report stated.  

In general, the EFF report found that Internet companies are improving in their efforts to protect Internet privacy. Several of the criteria have become common practice. Google and Microsoft both published information regarding National Security Letters, and Google got special recognition for fighting a National Security Letter request in courts.

While Twitter received a full six stars for its commitment to Internet privacy, it should be noted that the San Francisco, Calif., microblogging site has come under fire lately for not having enough security against malware scams that cause user accounts to get taken over. Last month, the AP’s Twitter account was hijacked, starting a temporary panic and brief stock market collapse.

The report notes that while the overall trend among major Internet companies toward protecting users' privacy is positive, there is still room for improvement. MySpace and Verizon didn’t earn a single star in the report, while Yahoo, AT&T and Apple only earned one.

Here is the ranking off all the companies in the study. You can read the complete study here.

Six Stars

- Sonic.net

- Twitter

Five Stars

- Dropbox

- Google

- LinkedIn

- Spideroak

Four Stars

- Foursquare

- Microsoft

- Wordpress

Three Stars

- Facebook

- Tumblr

Two Stars

- Amazon

- Comcast

One Star

- Apple

- AT&T

- Yahoo

Zero Stars

- MySpace

- Verizon

 

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