Which Internet Companies Protect Your Data from Unwarranted Government Snooping?


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The Electronic Frontier Foundation has just published its annual report, Who Has Your Back?, asking which major internet service providers protect your interests against government snooping into your online activitites. The newest report notes…

…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.

Below is a handy chart laying out what the EFF was able to find out the policies of leading companies when it comes to protecting your information from unwarranted government intrusion.

EFF Report
Credit: EFF

Bottom line: Trust Twitter and, along with Google and Dropbox. Apple, AT&T, Yahoo! and Verizon not so much.

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  1. Oh crap, better cancel my MySpace account!

    1. are people really this stupid????

  2. Yay Twitter.

  3. Twitter protects me from what exactly? The messages are broadcast anyway.

    1. Twitter interprets any legal requests by the government as narrowly as possible, and refuses to give out information whenever they possibly can while complying with the law (access to accounts, IP information, location information). I think they also sued to have a gag order removed on requests for information, which was ballsy. A friend of mine works in entertainment law and pushes her team to emulate Twitter's legal position as hard as she can.

      1. Bravo for your friend.

  4. Wow, Verizon sucks. And of course that's my cell phone provider.

    1. Sprint didn't even make the list 🙁

      1. Well, that's because no one uses Sprint.

        1. So hurtful, Epi. I'm right here.

          Actually I'm worse than that I use Virgin Mobile. It's Sprint mediated through a quasi independent third party and with a much more limited selection of phones. I'm willing to sacrifice for the 35$/month plan.

          1. jesse, the proper response would have been "I use Sprint!" to which I would respond "Exactly." You rushed the punchline while still operating as the straight man (ha), thereby robbing the joke of its kick. Do I need to take you back to clown college so you can relearn these things?

            1. Did I rob the joke of its kick or did I shift the kick to work in my favor?

              1. Both, you stole my punchline, but in doing so you reduced its effect. You're like a jewel thief that steals a priceless diamond but then has to cut up the diamond into lesser valued pieces in order to fence it.

                You're really gunning for nicole's tiara, aren't you.

                1. We all know I'm making a play for the tiara, Epi, but if you announce it like that I can't take advantage of nicole's belief that she is the unassailable worst.

          2. I'm with ya buddy. Sprint's my carrier too.

            1. I switched to Sprint because Verizon sucks so bad. I've actually been pleased with their service.

              1. That's the first time I've ever heard of someone doing that. When I had Sprint I couldn't even get coverage in my basement.

          3. No need to apologize. This country's mobile system would be much improved if more people did exactly what you're doing.

    2. My cell provider got one more star than yours. Then again, I only use that phone as a phone.

      1. AT&T protects your privacy by randomly dropping the connection. You can't wiretap a call that's been disconnected.

        1. I don't get the dropped connection around here. Plenty of one end can't hear the other, that happens about every week.

  5. Frankly, I'm interested in which web sites think it's OK to host ads that hijack your mobile browser and send you to the Google Play store instead of what you tapped on (hint, hint, Reason.)

    1. It's a trap!

      1. I see. The old honey pot disguised as a liberaltarian blog. From now on, I need to take more precautions.

    2. I'm pretty sure anybody logging into Reason - let alone actually posting on Reason - is already having everything they do monitored by the Feds. There's nothing Reason can turn over to the Feds that they don't already have.

      1. And keep in mind that the government doesn't need a warrant to monitor your communications - while technically warrantless wiretapping is a violation of the law, the government asserts the right to grant immunity to themselves and the ISPs that participate in warrantless wiretapping.

        Within my lifetime, we've gone from Nixon being widely mocked for asserting that when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal to Bush/Obama asserting that when the government does it, that means that it is not illegal and plenty of people don't bat an eye.

        Think about it - the government is declaring that the government is not bound by law and people are seriously arguing over whether or not there is a legal basis for this. I will grant you that there is almost unlimited historical evidence for governments not being bound by law, but as common as autocratic governance might be, there is no reason to quietly accept the inevitability of it happening here.

  6. I was actually pleased by this post. When I first started reading it, I was ready for an eyeroll about another bitch that William Sonoma sold my waffle iron purchases to Target.

    I'm glad to see they care about information flowing to the organization that wants a monopoly on force.

  7. Isn't there rather a lot of difference between the various companies?

    (Apple and Dropbox, or an ISP or cell phone provider aren't the same sort of company! Nor is Amazon really - outside of the S3 side - quite comparable to either set.)

    And the EFF seems to be conflating "has no published policy SAYING they require a warrant" with "does not require a warrant" - two radically different things.

    Talk is cheap, and actions are what matter.

    But admitting that undercuts the ability to make a scary graphic and make sweeping claims, so the EFF predictably errs on the side of "scary" rather than "thoughtful".

    Their advocacy has never impressed me.

    1. iCloud potentially has its hands on your email, your photos and videos, your texts to other iPhones, your contacts, your calendar, etc. I think it's pretty comparable.

      And AWS (Amazon Web Services) encompasses many services with much more sensitive info than S3.

      1. What about Facebook? That's private, right?

        1. I was just addressing his mentions of Amazon and Apple specifically.

          1. whoooooooooooooooooooooooooosh!

  8. I was a customer until very recently. They're fantastic, but they're hostage to AT&T's utterly retarded provisioning of phone lines.

    I moved from an apartment to a rental home barely an eighth-mile away, but that eighth-mile of actual distance put me an additional 6000 feet (!) of wire-distance away from the CO. My downstream single-line DSL speed collapsed from ~12MBps to ~5MBps. It was impossible to justify paying $50/month for that, even with bundled voice.

    But for AT&T sucking gigantic hairy unwashed camel whang, I would still be with Sonic.

    1. is a wonderfully run company.

  9. It kind of sucks that Verizon is the worst of those considering I contact my drug dealer almost exclusively through my phone.

  10. google 4 stars ?

    everything else wtf whos the asshole that did this.

  11. Just curious, why truat Apple and ATT more than Yahoo? All three got 1 star

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