Friday, January 17, 2014

Twitter Best In Protecting Citzen Privacy, Says EFF Report

Twitter's Dick Costollo (Business Insider)


Days before US President Barack Obama outlined new steps his government hoped to take to minimise surveillance by the government spy agencies on US citizens and people overseas, an internet freedom monitor scored different tech companies on how well they had protected private citizens from government.    
 “When it comes to how Internet companies protect people when the government asks for data, Twitter wins,” says Business Insider of a survey done by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).



Among the matters Obama addressed in his speech, Friday, was that of NSA issuing national security letters, which is an administrative subpoena to compel tech companies to hand over their records. It is significant that among the reforms the president proposed were that tech companies will not be subjected to an indefinite gag order to which they are now bound. But whereas the White House review panel recommended letters would require the approval of courts before they are issued, that was not accepted.

But well before the US administration announced its new policy on the letters (and other matters), Twitter was one of two companies surveyed by EFF that had scored big on six criteria used to evaluate how internet companies protect peoples’ privacy. The criteria include asking for a warrant before handing over records, fighting for users’ privacy rights in courts and championing for users’ privacy rights in Congress.

“Of the companies listed in the report’s summary, only two earned a ‘star’ for all six categories: Twitter and a company called Sonic.net, the EEF said. Sonic.net is a company based in Santa Rosa, Calif. that provides people with Internet access,” says Julie Bort for Business Insider.

“In this annual report, the Electronic Frontier Foundation examined the policies of major Internet companies … 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,” explained EFF in an Executive Summary of the report.

“So that means that Twitter outscored companies like Dropbox, Google and LinkedIn, though those companies also did well in the report. A few, like Amazon, Apple, Yahoo and Facebook, didn’t score so well,” commented Business Insider.

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