The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today published its annual “Who Has Your Back?” report for 2014 that rates companies based on how well they protect user data from both government and law enforcement requests.
Unlike previous years, Apple earned six stars in all of the categories measured by the EFF, including warrant requirements; telling users about government data requests; publishing transparency reports; publishing law enforcement guidelines; and fighting for users’ privacy rights both in the courts and Congress.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation commends Apple for making “remarkable” improvements in its commitment to protecting user data over the past 12 months. Apple, in past years, earned only a single star and lagged behind its competitors in the area or transparency and user privacy. Here is the EFF’s explanation of why Apple earned a star in each category measured by the EFF:
Warrant for content. Apple requires a warrant before providing content to law enforcement. Specifically, in its November transparency report it stated: “As we have explained, any government agency demanding customer content from Apple must get a court order.”
Inform users about government data demands. Apple promises to tell users if the government seeks their data.
Publish law enforcement guides. Apple publishes its law enforcement guidelines.
Fight for users privacy in courts. Apple is adding the following statement to its transparency report update, scheduled for May 2014.
Oppose mass surveillance. Apple is a member of the Reform Government Surveillance Coalition, which affirms that “governments should limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of Internet communications.”
After the public was made aware of the US government’s controversial Prism data collection program, Apple took steps to disclose government requests for user data in order to assure users it was not collaborating with the NSA in this bulk data collection. CEO Tim Cook also took a public stance against the NSA practices saying that he has “been pushing very, very hard to open the books and be totally transparent.”
Other companies earning a full six star rating from the EFF include Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo.