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Report shows Apple and many others boosted privacy protections last year, Snapchat did not

Jeff John Roberts

The Electronic Frontier Foundation on Thursday published the latest edition of its “Who has your back?” report, an annual report card that shows what companies are doing on the legal and privacy front to protect their users.

The digital advocacy group’s latest report brought a pleasant surprise: many companies, including Google and Apple, earned top marks for taking steps like informing users about government data requests, and publishing so-called “Transparency Reports.” Dropbox, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo are among the others to get a full six-out-of-six stars from the EFF, which looks to  Twitter – long a leader in advocacy — as a benchmark in compiling its report.

The laggards this year include Amazon and AT&T (only two stars), while the EFF singled out Snapchat, the disappearing photo service, for a scolding and an award of just one star. Snapchat, which is hugely popular with young people, was punished last week by the FTC for its blatant disregard for privacy promises.

The gold-star system is a little campy, and the EFF can be on the preachy side, but the “Who has your back?” campaign appears to be more working: more companies appear to be taking privacy and transparency issue more seriously than ever before. The ongoing fall-out over Edward Snowden and government surveillance has also, of course, led companies to improve their practices.

A screenshot showing part of the report card is below. Here’s the whole thing, and the EFF’s summary.


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