If you want your privacy protected, it turns out there are only a couple companies that do a 6-star job, and there are a surprising few that don’t do a whole lot.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation published a report that rated companies based on which of its “best practices” they followed for protecting users’ privacy. Companies could receive a star for each of the practices they followed. The 6 factors companies were rated on were requiring a warrant for data, informing users about government data requests, publishing transparency reports, publishing law enforcement guidelines, and fighting for users’ privacy right in courts as well as in Congress.
The report included big names like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ), FourSquare, DropBox, and Twitter. The list encompassed 18 Internet and tech companies in total.
Twitter stood alongside Sonic.net, an internet service provider, as one of two companies that managed to meet all of the EFF’s “best practices” guidelines. LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD), DropBox, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) got 5 stars.
While it’s comforting to know that some companies are looking out for users’ privacy, it it shocking to see how little some major companies are doing.
Verizon is one of the biggest mobile carriers in the United States, and it was given a whopping zero stars by the EFF, meaning that it did not follow any of the guidelines set by the watchdog foundation. Given how much sensitive data can be transmitted over a mobile network, users could be troubled by their lack of privacy.
AT&T and Apple were also quite low on the totem pole, receiving only 1 star each — the star for fighting for privacy rights in Congress. Despite engaging in this practice to protect users privacy, neither company actually engages in any of the more direct practices to keep users’ private data out of the hands of the government.
AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks combined account for nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population. The prevalence of iPhones and other Apple products surely extends the size of that effected group, which leaves a sweeping majority of U.S. citizens without strong privacy protection. Including MySpace — which also got zero stars — just added to the numbers.
While it may be a relief that at least Twitter is doing the most to protect users’ privacy, some big-name mobile carriers and internet service providers seem to be truly lacking, and they carry far more sensitive information and in much greater quantities.
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