Twitter, Sonic.net Top EFF’s List of Most-Protective IT Firms

One section of the EFF’s lengthy list of companies and their privacy policies.

What’s the best company for safeguarding your privacy and data online?

That’s a vital question, considering the amount of personal information we shoot into the cloud every day. And according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, there are only two major IT firms that cover all those security-and-privacy bases: Twitter and Sonic.net.

In its most recent annual report, the Electronic Frontier Foundation examined the major Internet companies’ terms of service, privacy policy, transparency report, and guidelines for law-enforcement requests. “We also considered the company’s public record of fighting for user privacy in the courts and whether it is a member of the Digital Due Process coalition, which encourages Congress to improve outdated communications law,” the organization wrote in an introduction to that report.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation used six criteria for assessing the various companies’ practices and policies:

1. Whether companies required the government fetch a warrant (supported by probable cause) for user information.

2. Whether companies actually provided statistics in a public forum about those government requests.

3. Whether the companies promised to tell users when the government wanted their data (unless telling the user was somehow prohibited by law).

4. Whether companies published guidelines or policies delineating how they responded to government requests.

5. Whether the companies had a demonstrated willingness to fight for users’ privacy and content rights in court.

6. Whether companies supported “efforts to modernize electronic privacy laws to defend users in the digital age by joining the Digital Due Process Coalition.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has found that more companies over the years have been willing to publish guidelines or policies for how they respond to government requests; in addition, a handful have been fighting for user-privacy rights on Capitol Hill. But the organization also cited some companies in need of improvement.

“Amazon holds huge quantities of information as part of its cloud computing services and retail operations, yet does not promise to inform users when their data is sought by the government, produce annual transparency reports, or publish a law enforcement guide,” read the introduction. “Apple and AT&T are members of the Digital Due Process coalition, but don’t observe any of the other best practices we’re measuring. And this year—as in past years—MySpace and Verizon earned no stars in our report.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation also called out Facebook, for not publishing a transparency report, and Yahoo. The full report is available as a PDF.

 

Image: EFF

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