Does Your Favorite Social Network Have Your Back on Privacy?

Think all social networks and Web companies will fight equally for your privacy when the government comes calling? Think again, especially if you are a user of Apple, Comcast, MySpace, Skype and Verizon.

Think all social networks and Web companies will fight equally for your privacy when the government comes calling?  Think again, especially if you are a user of Apple, Comcast, MySpace, Skype and Verizon.

Those are the five companies most likely to throw you under the bus altogether, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The digital liberties advocacy group has released  a privacy report and petition to rally users around the issue of privacy.

Measuring how tech companies respond to government requests for data, the advocacy group created a handy chart that ranks companies on their past behavior, privacy policies and terms of service, whether they fight for their users’ privacy in court, and their record of pushing for new privacy legislation.

Apple, Skype, Verizon, MySpace, and Comcast were the five companies that flunked altogether, while Google did relatively well.

Among social networks, Twitter stands out far from the rest, only lacking in its Congressional lobbying efforts.  MySpace and Skype both flunk, while Facebook is acknowledged for defending its users before Congress.

The EFF’s chart, below, awards full stars for companies who are doing a “stellar job,” and half stars for companies who are “moving in the right direction.”

The majority of “full stars” awarded to the 12 total companies analyzed came for ‘fighting for user privacy in Congress.’  The least came in the category of ‘telling users about data demands.’

EFF activist Rainey Reitmann told Forbes that, for example, Apple, Skype and Verizon each use vague language in their terms of service to allow leeway when handing user data to the government.

Twitter also has vague privacy language but, on the other hand, fought successfully in court for the right to tell its users that it was handing over account information associated with WikiLeaks.

Along with the chart, the EEF has launched a petition seeking better policies from the 12 companies.

The group says the chart will be updated as companies change their practices, they hope, in response to the petition.



Publish date: April 19, 2011 https://dev.adweek.com/digital/does-your-favorite-social-network-have-your-back-on-privacy/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT
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