Security and Privacy

2013 Who Has Your Back The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Third Annual Report on Online Service Providers

While browsing online I  stumbled on this really informative article and had to share.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Third Annual Report on Online Service Providers’ Privacy and Transparency Practices Regarding Government Access to User Data By Nate Cardozo , Cindy Cohn, Parker Higgins, Marcia Hofmann, and Rainey Reitman

When you use the Internet, you entrust your conversations, thoughts, experiences, locations, photos, and more to companies like Google, AT&T and Facebook. But what do these companies do when the government demands your private information? Do they stand with you? Do they let you know what’s going on?

In this annual report, the Electronic Frontier Foundation examined the policies of major Internet companies — including ISPs, email providers, cloud storage providers, location – based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites — to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data. The purpose of this report is to incentivize companies to be transparent about how data flows to the government and encourage them to take a stand for user privacy whenever it is possible to do so.

For the 2013 report, we used the following six criteria to assess company practices and policies:

  1. Require a warrant for content of communications. In this new category, companies earn recognition if they require the government to obtain a warrant supported by probable cause before they will hand over the content of user communications. This policy ensures that private messages stored by online services like Facebook, Google, and Twitter are treated consistently with the protections of the Fourth Amendment.
  2. Tell users about government data requests. To earn a star in this category, Internet companies must promise to tell users when the government seeks their data unless prohibited by law. This gives users a chance to defend themselves against overreaching government demands for their data.
  3. Publish transparency reports. We award companies a star in this category if they publish statistics on how often they provide user data to the government.
  4. Publish law enforcement guidelines. Companies get a star in this category if they make public policies or guidelines they have explaining how they respond to data demands from the government, such as guides for law enforcement.
  5. Fight for users’ privacy rights in courts. To earn recognition in this category, companies must have a public record of resisting overbroad government demands for access to user content in court.1
  6. Fight for users’ privacy in Congress. Internet companies earn a star in this category if they support efforts to modernize electronic privacy laws to defend users in the digital age by joining the Digital Due Process Coalition.

Download a copy of the report here.

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