In the United States we are supposed to have certain rights under the 4th amendment of the U.S. Constitution:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
However in today’s world most of us don’t write letters and our “papers and effects” are online. They are on the social media sites we are members of and the websites we visit. So if the FBI comes knocking at the door of the ISP you use, your favorite search company or social media sites you visit and request they hand over your information to them. Will the company simply hand over the information or do they request a warrant. Another words which company has your back and which company does not. That is what the (EFF) Electronic Freedom Foundation investigated. This is the third year they have publish this report. They took a look at 18 tech companies and looked into their terms of service, privacy policies, advocacy, and courtroom track records, to see how they stack up. They looked at the following 6 criteria
- Requires a warrant for content
- Tell users about government data request
- Publishes transparency reports
- Publishes law enforcement guidelines
- Fights for users privacy rights in court
- Fights for users privacy rights in Congress
Out of the 18 companies they investigated only two companies received all six stars, Twitter and Sonic.net. Two companies MySpace and Verizon received zero stars. A full chart is available at the EFF website along with a PDF explaining what they looked for and how they evaluated it. According to the EFF they have notice some progress over the three years they have been doing the report, more companies are now letting individual know when a government entity is requesting information about them. It is nice to see that some companies are doing their part to protect our information from the government. Hopefully next year more companies will have more stars
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