The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a consumer advocacy group specializing in digital rights and freedoms, wants the world’s biggest tech companies to improve their government data-request policies—and it’s promising them gold stars if they do so.
For five years, the EFF has released an annual scorecard rating the policies and practices of major consumer technology companies. The scorecard rates each company on everything from whether it tells users about government data demands to whether it publicly opposes government backdoors. It also explains in detail the analysis that went into each score.
The EFF claims that it has achieved significant changes as a result of issuing this report.
“Many of the companies on the report proactively modified their practices and policies over the course of the last couple months in order to bring them up to the new Who Has Your Back standards,” EFF Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo told the Daily Dot. “One company that stood out was Amazon. You may have seen that they released their first ever transparency report, law enforcement guidelines, and public encryption policy position in the last week. That timing was not coincidental.”
Once again, telecom companies like AT&T and Verizon scored poorly on the report. Neither company discloses its policies on data retention or informs its users about government data requests. The latter policy is particularly significant, because it means customers never learn how often the government is asking for their data.
This year’s report added three new companies: Reddit, Slack, and WhatsApp. Even though it had a year to prepare for evaluation, WhatsApp earned a dismal score: a single star for the anti-backdoor stance of its parent company, Facebook. WhatsApp boasts almost 500 million users but is one of the worst performers on the EFF’s scorecard.
The EFF says the improvement it has seen since it began issuing its report is 2011 is “emblematic of a broader shift” and that “more and more companies are voluntarily speaking out about government data requests and giving users tools to fight back.
Check out the scorecards to see how your favorite companies fare.
Photo via Perspecsys Photos/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)