The Electronic Frontier Foundation is continuing its fight for the rights of Internet users with its recently published annual study of the privacy policies of top Internet companies. The EFF ranked 18 major Internet companies based on four standards: their openness with data demands, transparency regarding government requests, whether or not they fight in court for users’ privacy requests and whether or not they do so in Congress.
According to the EFF:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation examined the policies of 18 major Internet companies — including email providers, ISPs, cloud storage providers, and social networking sites — to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data. We looked at their terms of service, privacy policies, and published law enforcement guides, if any. We also examined their track record of fighting for user privacy in the courts and whether they’re members of the Digital Due Process coalition, which works to improve outdated communications law. Finally, we contacted each of the companies with our conclusions and gave them an opportunity to respond and provide us evidence of improved policies and practices.
Unsurprisingly, Twitter scored 3.5 stars out of 4, one of the highest scores on the list, in part because of the company’s affinity for Mozilla’s Do Not Track feature, as well as its refusal to hand over user data without a warrant.
But Sonic.net, a small California-based ISP that uses bonded DSL to deliver high-speed Internet, topped the list with a full four out of four stars. This reporter used Sonic back in San Francisco, and while the connectivity was occasionally spotty (mostly due to our apartment’s location), they were always extremely helpful and forthright about service and usage issues.
Also interesting to note is the fact that the little New York startup that could, Foursquare, apparently doesn’t care about your privacy: it scored zero stars in EFF’s study. Chew on that next time you decide to check in any place sketchy.