Apple and Amazon give your private data to the government without a warrant, says EFF report

who_has_your_back

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) annual “Who Has Your Back?” report looks at how 18 big tech companies protect their users’ data from the American government. 2013’s report is out, and it isn’t a good reading for some companies.

EFF’s report looks at six points regarding user privacy:

  • Does the company ask for a warrant before providing data to the government?
  • Does the company tell users if a government requested a user’s data?
  • Does the company publish “transparency reports”?
  • Does the company publicly publish law enforcement guidelines followed by the company?
  • Does the company fight for users’ privacy rights in courts?
  • Does the company fight for users’ privacy rights in Congress?

Out of the 18 companies that were looked at in the report, only 2 received all six possible points — Twitter and Sonic.net. Dropbox, Google, LinkedIn also did pretty well, getting 5 out of 6 stars. On the other hand, companies like Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Verizon, Yahoo, Comcast, and MySpace did terrible, getting two stars or less. More importantly, Apple, Amazon, AT&T, Verizon, Yahoo, and Comcast all do not require the government to provide a warrant to gain access to your data.

It should be noted this study didn’t look at how companies fight to protect users’ data overall — it specifically looked at how companies fight to protect users’ data from the government. So this doesn’t necessarily mean one company is more pro-privacy than the other; it means some companies are more pro-privacy than others in the matter of giving user data to the government.

Here’s the complete list of rankings:

2013-05-03_184550

On the bright side, many of the companies listed have improved their data protection practices compared to previous years:

We’re happy to report that several of the companies included in last year’s report have significantly improved their practices and policies concerning government access to user data. Comcast, Google, SpiderOak, and Twitter earned two new stars this year while Microsoft earned three new stars. Foursquare went from zero stars in 2012 to four in 2013.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more improvement, however. Ever since the annual report began in 2011, Verizon has failed to earn any stars in the report. The EFF also calls on location service providers and cellphone providers like AT&T and Verizon to improve their policies regarding protecting user data. You can read more details about the report from the via link below.

What do you think about this report? Let us know in the comments below!

[via EFFBGR]

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3 comments

  1. MarkQ

    They might not even require a warrant to get the data in the near future if things go as they want. Time to be very careful, folks, if you aren’t already. Better be safe than sorry.

  2. Mothballs

    It isn’t exactly heartwarming to see that Apple are prepared to fight for my privacy rights in the US Congress, while failing in every other area measured.

    It only leaves me with the impression that they’re only watching my back until they’ve figured out how to monetize it.