Feeds

EFF report identifies which internet firms 'have your back' on data

Twitter is tops, but big-name fails from Verizon, Apple, and others

Intelligent flash storage arrays

The annual Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report on data protection among online firms has shown lax privacy standards among some of the biggest names in the business when the government comes knocking at the door.

A total of 18 companies were assessed on their privacy policies and T&Cs, stated procedures for handling government data-mining expedition requests, and their overall level of transparency. These factors were then ranked alongside what they'd actually done in the real world when asked by the authorities, plus any lobbying efforts undertaken on the issues in Congress.

The report's dunces were Verizon and MySpace, with both companies getting zero out of a possible six gold stars (a curiously child-like scoring system, in this hack's opinion), with Apple, AT&T, Comcast and Yahoo! only scraping a single star apiece. Amazon and Comcast managed two stars each.

"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. We remain disappointed by the overall poor showing of ISPs like AT&T and Verizon in our best practice categories," the EFF states.

The star pupils, with the full six gold stars (and presumably a pat on the head from teacher) were Twitter and West Coast ISP Sonic.net. Twitter has defended the rights of users ranging from Occupy protestors to French racists, and Sonic.net makes a point of minimizing data retention times to a legally-required bare minimum and not cooperating with IP-hunting legal shysters.

Google and Microsoft got praise for raising awareness of National Security Letters (NSLs) – government-issued investigatory orders with a tight gagging clause that can be enforced without judicial oversight. The NSL orders have now been ruled unconstitutional by a US court, though that decision is pending appeal.

But Google also got a demotion for a change in its official policy on informing users if they are under investigation. This year, the Chocolate Factory changed its T&Cs on user notification to promising to tell them "when appropriate," which the EFF considers so nebulous as to allow a whole host of shenanigans.

But Google gets praise for pioneering the practice of transparency reports, a practice adopted last year by Dropbox, LinkedIn, Sonic.net, SpiderOak, and Twitter, and more recently Microsoft. Such reports are fast becoming key to informing users on privacy practices, but there are still plenty of companies managing petabytes of data that shun them, including Amazon, Apple, AT&T, and Verizon.

"Readers of this year’s annual privacy and transparency report should be heartened, as we are, by the improvements major online service providers made over the last year," the report concludes.

"While there remains room for improvement in areas such as the policies of location service providers and cellphone providers like AT&T and Verizon, certain practices – like publishing law enforcement guidelines and regular transparency reports – are becoming standard industry practice for internet companies." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Big Content outs piracy hotbeds: São Paulo, Beijing ... TORONTO?
MPAA calls Canadians a bunch of bootlegging movie thieves
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
Hungary's internet tax cannot be allowed to set a precedent, says EC
More protests planned against giga-tariff for Tuesday evening
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.