Trust Twitter and Google, not Apple, to protect you from government data demands

By , May 1, 2013

EFF Who Has Your Back teaser

Well, this is certainly noteworthy. According to the third annual report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) titled “Who Has Your Back?”, gadget giant Apple along with carriers AT&T and Verizon, Google’s rival Yahoo and the forgotten social network MySpace all are very likely to give in to Uncle Sam’s data demands.

Specifically, Apple and Yahoo scored one out of six possible stars, with Verizon and Yahoo rather ingloriously earning zero stars each. These companies’ weak safeguard implementation does little to circumvent data demands and protect your private information from the government’s prying eyes.

Whereas Apple and Yahoo only fight for users’ privacy rights in Congress, companies like Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Dropbox go to great lengths to ensure privacy of your data, earning four out of six stars each…

“We remain disappointed by the overall poor showing of ISPs like AT&T and Verizon in our best practice categories,” the EFF wrote. Comcast, Google, SpiderOak and Twitter earned two new stars this year, Microsoft earned three new stars and Foursquare went from zero stars in 2012 to four stars in 2013.

Of the eighteen technology service providers the EFF tested, only Sonic.net and Twitter have reasons to celebrate, having emerged victorious with a prefect six out of six stars each.

This means both companies protect your privacy in Congress and courts, publish law enforcement guidelines and transparency guidelines, tell users about government data requests and require a warrant for your content.

Wondering which service providers tell users about government data requests?

Think Dropbox, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Twitter, WordPress and Sonic.net. Just don’t count on neither Facebook nor Google to tell you what’s going on. In fact, you may never know they bent over to Uncle Sam and handed over your data as neither will inform you of data requests from the government.

“We were disappointed to see Google backslide in this category,” the EFF wrote, “introducing ambiguity into its policy and in the process losing the half-star it had earned in previous years.”

Google on its part argues that “we notify users about legal demands when appropriate, unless prohibited by law or court order.”

Here are the rankings.

EFF Who Has Your Back

Microsoft and Twitter this year published their first transparency reports, while Facebook has yet to publish a transparency report of its own.

“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,” the EFF cautioned.

Google and Microsoft each posted figures regarding National Security Letters.

What are these, you ask?

If you look it up on Wikipedia, a National Security Letter is a secretive government demand for user information and typically accompanied by a gag order.

Gag orders are issued exclusively by the FBI – without judicial oversight – and are designed to prevent individuals from ever revealing the existence of a National Security Letter to their coworkers, friends, family members or the general public.

Interestingly enough, when it comes to protecting users’ privacy in courts, Google impressed the EFF by challenging a National Security Letter.

Not every company has had the opportunity to defend user privacy in the courts, and sometimes companies will fight for users in court but be prevented from publicly disclosing this fact.

However, we award a star in this category when a company goes above and beyond for its users, as Google did this year.

It’s also interesting that even though Amazon was conceived as a cloud-based startup – the company now leases its servers to other startups and big brands like Twitter – the online retail giant only earned one more star compared to Apple or Yahoo.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn about four stars for WordPress. WordPress’s rival Tumblr earned one less star. Both blogging platforms are new to the EFF report this year.

In case you’re not familiar with the intricacies of the Patriot Act, the FBI ca now get telephone, Internet, financial, credit, and other personal records about anybody without court approval, “as long as it believes the information could be relevant to an authorized terrorism or espionage investigation.”

All told, the report is a devastating blow to Apple’s proclaimed privacy efforts.

Did you find these findings trustworthy?

I frankly thought Apple would have ranked somewhere in the middle, if not near the top.

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  • http://twitter.com/HaikDL Haik Avanesyan

    Disappointing how these companies take our money but don’t fight for our rights

    • Hyr3m

      Why would these two concepts go hand in hand? I think they’re rather mutually exclusive…

  • Chuck Finley

    Trust Google with private data?

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    • lmao

      Considering the mass number of google services available (google drive, web history, etc), it is nice to know they have our back.

      • Hyr3m

        Except they really don’t…

      • lmao

        It is proven fact that they do, actually – despite what some may like to believe.

      • Hyr3m

        Proven fact ? How can you even hope to begin to try to prove the fact that nobody in Google ever provided the CIA (or affiliate …) with any information they shouldn’t have shared?

        FB, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and probably a lot of other tech companies have been set up with the help of CIA and/or DARPA with (more or less) black-budget money. Those are facts… good luck trying to prove that they have our back when it’s obvious they are zionist operations…

      • Kurt

        Proven fact? It’s proven that they give our info to the government. 4th amendment, what’s that again?

  • Gorgonphone

    lol at trusting any human at all..

    • Gorgonphone

      i dont even trust me…lol

      • http://TechToTalk.com/ Ali Wadi

        LOOOOL

  • https://twitter.com/MrElectrifyer MrElectrifyer

    “Specifically, Apple and Yahoo scored one out of six possible stars, with Verizon and Yahoo rather ingloriously earning zero stars each”

    Yahoo can score both 1 and 0 stars simultaneously….must be a 2-in-1 company :P

  • http://twitter.com/Chindavon Chindavon

    TRUST NONE OF THEM!

    • http://www.facebook.com/saeed.ghattas.5 Saeed Ghattas

      Trust none of what they tell you either

  • Mohammad Ridwan

    Twitter got all the 5 stars, but isn’t everything you say on Twitter is public ?

    • http://twitter.com/FinestRocker Antonio Santos

      Yes but the things reviewed are not related. Plus the FBI can request, say, only the location data from all your tweets.

  • Dri

    Pretty much tells us that apple dont care that much for us that support apple

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1649839720 Raul Henriquez

      Or there trying to make google look better then Apple so people trust Apple less. I truly believe google is an evil company ran by the government and Apple is this small organization fighting against shit like this : )

      • lmao

        You can believe what you will, but history shows Google actually fights against the government with any and all requests for information. You have to separate your hate for Android, from Google’s other services such as search, google drive, analytics, advertising, maps, and more.

        Apple is not no ‘small organization’ either. They have the resources and man power to take consumer security and privacy seriously, but simply choose not too. Remember, the iCloud fiasco not long ago? I’ve never trusted iCloud since, and after seeing this report, that stance is well founded.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1649839720 Raul Henriquez

        Ok

    • FrankensteinBlack

      Exactly! Apple has no balls. They sell you a beautiful burger and then feed you a nicotine laced shtsandwich that looks like a burger behind you back. So RH, try to get the Apple monkey off your back. Sayin. As for Google? They care about one thing, ad revenue that MAKES MONEY! So of course they fight hard against anything that interferes with it and the mere perception of handing over data willy nilly interferes. Youtube is a prime example. If Apple owned youtube, it would have buckled and folded years ago!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Makavelli.1 Joseph A. Ahmad

    Well this is very comforting. This makes me want to connect all of my personal information to all of my Apple products RIGHT NOW, yea… no way.

    • lmao

      My feelings exactly

  • lmao

    “earning four out of six stars each…”

    I know math is hard, but is this not ‘five out of six stars each…’ ?

  • http://twitter.com/Mtfr123 m

    Most people just think that these companies fight for our rights??? No way.. Who knows if this chart up is made by the government itself to change people’s ideas about some “2 faced” companies that seem to LOVE us and care for our privacy.. Stop that nonsense and laughter on people

  • http://twitter.com/applecultist Joseph

    In the case that you didn’t read the article it said:

    “As long as it believes the information could be relevant to an authorized terrorism or espionage investigation”

    Which tells me that if I’m not involved in terrorism then they won’t give my information to the FBI.

    Pretty simple.

  • Hyr3m

    It’s not so much a theory as known facts… Do your research before baselessly using derogatory and dismissing terms like “conspiracy theorist”.

    What you don’t understand is that (just like other mafias) they don’t need to use legal channels; they have their people at every level of the organisations and can get whatever info they want without even having to ask politely because they “own” these guys…

    Just because you have “many” examples of situation A doesn’t “prove” in any way that situation B never occurred.

    I loved google for a long time and but then I realized they’d dropped the “don’t be evil” motto long ago…

    Remember Hitler did a lot of good things and was very much loved by everyone in his country before going “batsh*t warmongering mad”… (let’s not get into “why” and “under who’s influence” because you’ll be in for a ride if you don’t know that already…)

    • pawfyd

      If you hate Google that much for this, how much you must hate Apple, considering what this article says?!

      • Hyr3m

        Well… at least Apple is not pretending to be on our side ^^
        I don’t trust google much but I trust google way more than I would ever trust the fruit-brand…

    • lmao

      Don’t hate a company because they are successful. The fact they dropped the “Don’t be evil” moto is by no means a bad thing, as it is quite outdated and not suited for todays corporate environments. Google has made enemies, with Apple, Microsoft, and countless others, so yes, they do stand their ground and are not the toothless dog everybody thought they were back in the day.

      Just because they are successful does not mean they are a mafia by any means of the word, nor are they parasites infiltrating the top levels of government to gain favours. They are simply successful, and keep well within the laws. Lobbying for improvements much like Apple and others.

      I will stand by my word and say they have your back when it comes to your data, privacy, and rights, which is more than Apple and countless others are willing to do. That is the point behind this article, after all.

      I’ve listed an example (one of dozens that can be found). If you think they are such an untrustworthy company when it comes to users data, please back up that statement with more than conjecture and speculation.

      • Hyr3m

        I never meant Google had people in the government… rather the other way around… and it’s not really the government…

        I’m sure if you’re interested by the subject you can ironically use google to find out some things about the world in which we live today… I recommend starting by 9/11 then 7/7 then the “financial crisis” and then go back to ww2 and the european revolutions… You can stop by to learn about media and entertainment corporations at any point too…or wander into subjects like the Sandy Hook or the more recent Boston bombings…

        Then read about Italian and Chinese international mafiias and their ties with politicians and their methods for example…

      • lmao

        You do not like being called a conspiracy theorist, however what you have written is the exact definition of a conspiracy theory – and you can look that up if you wish.

        As for using Google to do the research, yes.. but the same results are on Bing and other search engines just the same.

        I can read about the world, but that is nothing more than shifting focus away from the question at hand. What has google done to make you believe, and try to convince other of, they are an evil corporation and not trustworthy with our data and private information? All I’ve read so far is meaningless conjecture, and is akin to the dooms day occult who believes the world is coming to an end based on insignificant, and completely unrelated events.

      • Hyr3m

        It’s only a theory as long as there’s no proof. I’m not theorizing about anything… simply stating known facts…

        If you don’t know what’s the link between “the state the world is in” and “evil corporations” I cannot help you with any measure of what you’ll apparently always see as “insignificant, completely unrelated events”. -> Unrelated because you don’t know how they are related yet and don’t seem keen on finding out for yourself but rather would like me to spend an hour spelling it out for you to dismiss it without even looking into it.

        As for “using google” vs “using bing”… I was just saying it’s ironic that you can use google to find out what’s evil about google… And if you think microsoft is so much better you haven’t begun to even scratch the surface…

      • lmao

        “I’m not theorizing about anything… simply stating known facts…”

        What “known facts” have you stated? You have not said anything except theories and conjecture, without so much as a link or article to back up your claims. I do believe that you believe in what you are saying, but sadly, that is where it ends.

        Have a good day, as this is the last I will post in this never ending, and pointless conversation.

      • Hyr3m

        I don’t know if you’re genuinely interested in this subject or just in dissing my point so I’m not going to waste time digging through years of resources and writing up a full fledged article… If I had the time for these sort of things I’d have a blog for it or something…

        As you (should) know, conspiracies have existed in all times and we only sometimes find out about them… but there’s still tons of example of known conspiracies even in the 20th century. With the power and resources that the elites have nowadays, one would be incredibly foolish to even hope for nothing “wrong” to be going on right now in developed countries.

        If you’re really interested, please do some research. I pointed towards different subjects that should help opening your eyes. I’ll gladly participate in the conversation with more content if you can demonstrate you’re being honest and not just blindly patriotrolling.

        Also, for Google’s ties with the CIA, search for Robert David Steele’s testimony.

      • wheebang

        Seriously dude. Don’t waste your breath, and our time.

      • Hyr3m

        You chose to read this, and then you chose to waste some more time writing a reply. You will probably chose to read this reply of mine too. Go do something useful with your life instead of blaming others for what you decide to spend your time doing.

      • wheebang

        Your posts are quite enjoyable to read actually, but I do hope you find something more constructive to do with your life than chase conspiracy theories, or you will end up with the rest of the crack pots.

        Food for thought, and like others, this will be the last I reply to this (while amusing), completely pointless and off topic thread.

      • Hyr3m

        Don’t worry about me mate :P I like to learn things so I’m always looking deep into subjects to try and find out the truth (or rather… the lies… ’cause we can never really know the whole truth) but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a life :

        I’m both a 6 figures employee and a multiple-business owner, very positive and optimistic yet very realistic (for example when talking about the state this world is in). My health is great and I’m quite good-looking ^^. Also, my English is better than a lot of native speakers’ and my French is way above the average french man. Thanks for your concern though, I’m touched… and I must say I’m concerned about you if you think that all people trying to “fight” against organised murdering manipulative thieves are crackpots.

      • wheebang

        You can paint yourself any way you wish, however that does not diminish the fact that you are a mental case, and have a demented view of the world. Who are you talking about that are “organised murdering manipulative thieves” as you put it? We are not talking about mass genocide or terrorist regimes here.

        For the record, I am not a business owner, but I am a Senior level Embedded Architect for the last 12 years, and also earn well into the 6 figure mark. Don’t consider yourself unique or special, especially not on a technology blog.

        Feel free to troll, list more useless and irrelevant facts, or not.. it’s your choice – however – this is my final post in this thread.

        Have a good day.

      • Hyr3m

        See that “Leaked NSA presentation slides show it’s not just Verizon giving up data [updated]” post from today ?

        Fool !

      • Hyr3m

        See that “Leaked NSA presentation slides show it’s not just Verizon giving up data [updated]” post from today ?

        You bloody fool !

    • Kurt

      funny how you are called a “fool” and you get 7 down votes. and look who was proven a “fool” today

      • Hyr3m

        I’ve done some research on neuroscience a while back and can understand what’s happening in their brain… It’s hard to grasp a concept when this concept implies hundreds of things that go completely against everything we’re told and taught since we’re little… Imagine millions of neuron networks in the brain ringing a red alert “Information makes sense but is incompatible with almost everything my universe is based upon”.

        I can only wish them a smooth ride into awareness… it can be really depressing and I feel for them; I’ve been there ^^