Which Online Providers Protect Your Data?

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Which tech companies do the most to safeguard your data?

In its fifth annual report (PDF) on online service providers’ privacy and transparency practices, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) gave five-star ratings to Adobe,Apple, Dropbox, Yahoo, WordPress, and a handful of other companies.

Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest all received four stars; Google, Slack, and Snapchat garnered only three. The worst performers? Verizon earned only two, while AT&T and WhatsApp earned one apiece.

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In order to rack up five stars from the EFF, a tech company needs to follow industry-accepted best practices with regard to data security and privacy; tell its users about any and all government data demands; disclose policies on data retention; reveal any government content-removal requests, and oppose any attempts to place backdoors in its systems.

The EFF’s report also calls out specific companies for above-and-beyond attempts to protect data—and for doing things the organization considers shady. It accuses Facebook, for example, of cooperating with prison systems to block prisoner access to the social network. “This practice was the inspiration for EFF’s newest category: tracking how often companies are removing content or shutting down accounts at the behest of the government,” the report added.

One company the EFF felt worthy of singling out for praise: Twitter, which offers an interactive map (above) showing content removal requests around the world.

Overall, though, the EFF seems pleased with the tech industry’s progress toward greater transparency and better privacy controls. For privacy-minded tech pros, their list is well worth a read, if only because it offers some guidance on where to store sensitive data online. The report includes extensive breakdowns of how each company earned its stars.

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