1The Best and Worst Companies for Defending Your Data Privacy
Each year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation digital rights group releases a report outlining which major tech companies “have your back.” The study evaluates whether companies follow data privacy standards, tell users about government data requests, promise not to sell user data, resist National Security Letter gag orders and reject internet surveillance. Essentially, EFF judges companies on how well they respect user data privacy. Once again, the group has shared its findings on the companies it believes do the best and worst jobs of handling user data. The study lists some of the biggest names in the technology industry, and shows some tech titans have some work to improve data privacy. Read on to find out which companies are doing the best job of protecting data—and which companies are not.
Adobe might not have the best product security track record, but it seems to care about user data security. Adobe earns high marks for following privacy practices and telling users about data requests. It also promises not to give user data to marketers and supports internet privacy. Adobe will even stand up to government requests for user data on the grounds of national security.
Not to be outdone, Lyft competitor and fellow ride-hailing company Uber earned equally high marks in this year’s study. Uber earned five stars and high marks for its commitment to user privacy. It’s also standing up to government surveillance requests and has committed to maintaining high user-privacy standards.
Interestingly, Pinterest was the only social network in the 26 companies evaluated in the report to earn a five stars rating. It easily topped Twitter’s three stars and edged Facebook’s and LinkedIn’s four stars. EFF noted that other social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter, don’t “stand up to National Security Letter gag orders.” EFF sees that as a problem, since the FBI can request user data without court oversight. Pinterest stands up to those letters, according to the group.
In what appears to be a trend in the wireless carrier industry, T-Mobile also earned just one star out of a possible five in the EFF study. Like the other carriers in the survey, T-Mobile earned a star for supporting certain industry privacy practices, but fails to tell users about government data requests. EFF criticized T-Mobile—and other carriers—for not informing users that their data is being given to the government until it has been sent.
Verizon didn’t do any better in the study. The company’s only star came for supporting industry practices, but hasn’t done enough to combat National Security Letter gag orders, EFF said. The foundation was also displeased that Verizon—like its fellow carriers and ISPs—isn’t doing enough to ensure governments aren’t tracking its users by their immigration status or religion.
WhatsApp’s rating isn’t as low as Comcast’s and the others in the EFF study, but it isn’t doing much better. The company received two stars, for following industry privacy practices and supporting public policy reform to reduce internet surveillance. However, the Facebook-owned chat app didn’t score high in telling users about government data requests. It also failed to “stand up” to National Security Letter gag orders.