9 Tech Firms Receive Perfect Scores In EFF Ranking Concerning Data Protection From The Government

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Apple, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox were each awarded perfect scores in the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) yearly scoring of major tech companies’ practices when it comes to protecting user data from government eyes. The six companies posted various improvements in the year interval regarding their work to defend user privacy. Twitter and Sonic.net repeated their perfect 2013 scores this year.

The six categories that the companies were ranked on when it comes to protecting user data from the government are as follows: Requires a warrant for content; Tells users about government data requests; Publishes transparency reports; Publishes law enforcement guidelines; Fights for users’ privacy rights in courts; Fights for users’ privacy rights in Congress.

For each category a company meets the mark in the EFF’s eyes, they are awarded a star. Companies can therefore be awarded up to 6 stars per year.

Apple picked up 5 new stars from 2013 to 2014, as did Yahoo. Facebook snagged 3 new stars. Microsoft picked up a more modest 2 stars. (2012 data from the same survey isn’t comparable as only 4 categories were ranked.)

What follows are the companies’ 2014 rankings, and their star differential, either positive or negative, since 2013. I’ve broken them into various classes, so we can better understand who does well now, and who has improved since last year.

6 stars last year, 6 stars this year:

  • Sonic.net: 6 stars. Change from 2013: 0 stars.
  • Twitter: 6 stars. Change from 2013: 0 stars.

6 stars this year, ranked by their raw improvement in star count from 2013:

  • Apple 6 stars. Change from 2013: 5 stars. (Tie)
  • Yahoo: 6 stars. Change from 2013: 5 stars. (Tie)
    • Facebook: 6 stars. Change from 2013: 3 stars.
    • Microsoft: 6 stars. Change from 2013: 2 stars.
    • Google: 6 stars. Change from 2013: 1 star. (Tie)
    • Dropbox: 6 stars. Change from 2013: 1 star. (Tie)

6 stars this year, and new to the ranking charts:

  • Credo Mobile: 6 stars. Change from 2013: N/A.

5 stars in 2014:

  • Internet Archive: 5 stars. Change from 2013: N/A.
  • LinkedIn: 5 stars. Change from 2013: 0 stars.
  • Pinterest: 5 stars. Change from 2013: N/A.
  • Spideroak: 5 stars. Change from 2013: 0 stars.
  • Tumblr: 5 stars. Change from 2013: 2 stars.
  • Wickr: 5 stars. Change from 2013: N/A.
  • WordPress: 5 stars. Change from 2013: 1 star.

4 stars in 2014:

  • Lookout: 4 stars. Change from 2013: N/A.
  • Verizon: 4 stars. Change from 2013: 4 stars.
  • Wikimedia: 4 stars. Change from 2013: N/A.

Wall of Shame:

  • Adobe: 3 stars. Change from 2013: N/A.
  • Comcast: 3 stars. Change from 2013: 1 star.
  • Foursquare: 3 stars. Change from 2013: -1 star.
  • MySpace: 3 stars. Change from 2013: 0 stars.
  • Amazon: 2 stars. Change from 2013: 0.
  • AT&T: 2 stars. Change from 2013: 1 star.
  • Snapchat: 1 star. Change from 2013: N/A.

If you compare the 2013 ranks to 2014, it’s clear that the average score has gone up. There were 2 companies that had perfect scores in 2013, and 9 in 2014. I think that it’s simple to put the onus for that gain on the leaks of Edward Snowden, who kicked off a global discussion about the intersection of government, and user data.

IMAGE BY FLICKR USER EFF Photos UNDER CC BY 2.0 LICENSE (IMAGE HAS BEEN CROPPED)