The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s newest “Who Has Your Back?” report details what exactly tech giants are doing — or failing to do — to protect their users from potentially invasive government data requests.
This time around, the annual report includes all four big U.S. wireless carriers and a solid who’s who of tech’s most established players. Some of the winners and losers are who you’d expect, though others came as a bit of a surprise.
The EFF rates all of them on a five-star scale, with five different measures: following industry-wide best privacy practices, informing users about requests for your data, selling users out to third parties, standing up to gag orders and supporting the abolishment or reform for Section 702 surveillance. Within their rating system, five stars means that a company is the least likely to sell you out and zero stars means they make few to no efforts to protect user data from government requests.
“We focus on a handful of specific, measurable criteria that can act as a vital stopgap against unfettered government access to user data,” the EFF writes. “Through this report, we hope to galvanize widespread changes in the policies of technology companies to ensure our digital lives are not subject to invasive and undemocratic government searches.”
- Credo Mobile
- Uber (bet you didn’t guess this one)
Four stars (honorable mention):
You might notice a theme with the one-star losers:
Dishonorable mentions (two stars):
A handful of companies fell in the three-star range, including Airbnb, Snap and Twitter. Bear in mind that this rating system is about user privacy in terms of government requests, not user privacy with general regard to advertisers or anything else (we’re looking at you, Facebook and Google). For thorough detail on each company’s strengths and shortcomings, read the full report’s breakdown of each company it evaluated.
If you’re not very familiar with the EFF, the organization provides some very useful shorthand for privacy concerns, synthesizing a lot of policy down into scorecards like this one and publishing them annually. Keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming 2017 Secure Messaging Scorecard, which evaluates the security of the most popular messaging apps.