The Internet Companies That Protect Your Privacy When the Government Starts Prying


With the Snowden revelations, we learned a lot more about how the government snoops into the lives of US citizens and how technology companies help them do it. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's latest "Who Has Your Back?" report doesn't exactly reveal which companies are helping the NSA most. But it paints a picture of those companies that are taking the most action on privacy matters, and those that have more important things to worry about.

The report looks at the policies of 26 Internet companies -- from Internet service providers (ISPs) and email providers, to telecoms and blogging platforms -- across six categories "to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data." Nine companies -- Apple, Credo Mobile, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sonic, Twitter, and Yahoo -- gets stars in all categories. Twenty-three companies require a warrant. And 20 companies tell users about government requests. All the companies received at least one star.

A few companies stand out for their lack of policy. Snapchat only scores in one category ("publishing law enforcement guidelines"). "This is particularly troubling because Snapchat collects extremely sensitive user data, including potentially compromising photographs of users," the report says.

But AT&T and Comcast aren't much better. Neither require a warrant before allowing the NSA to view content, and neither tells users about government requests. And neither has sought to protect user rights by lobbying in Congress.

The Internet Companies That Protect Your Privacy When the Government Starts Prying