EFF Report Highlights Apple's Efforts to Protect Consumer Data, Increase Transparency
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit digital rights group, today released its annual "Who Has Your Back" report, ranking companies on their efforts to protect user privacy and resist government data demands.
Apple was awarded a full six stars in all of the categories the EFF measures, including requiring a warrant for content; telling users about government data requests; publishing transparency reports; publishing law enforcement guidelines; and fighting for users' privacy rights in courts and in Congress.
The EFF notes in its report that Apple has made a "remarkable" improvement over the course of the last year when it comes to user privacy policies, as it only earned a single star in past years. The report, which is based on publicly available information, does not include secret surveillance orders.
Apple earned credit in all 6 categories in this year's Who Has Your Back report. Apple's rating is particularly striking because it had lagged behind industry competitors in prior years, earning just one star in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Apple shows remarkable improvement in its commitments to transparency and privacy.
After the public revelation of PRISM, a top secret intelligence gathering program run by the U.S. National Security Agency, Apple made several moves towards increasing transparency about data requests to assure users it was not participating in the program.
The company issued a "Commitment to Customer Privacy" statement and began disclosing information on government data requests and its own policies, which include asking for warrants for information. It also released a "Report on Government Information Requests" back in November, and has pledged to implement a policy to notify users of information requests from law enforcement.
In addition to its new transparency policies, Apple also joined the Government Surveillance Coalition to urge the U.S. government to agree to greater transparency over demands for user data and Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Barack Obama and other tech executives to discuss government surveillance in August of 2013. In March, Apple hired Sabrina Ross to oversee the protection of consumer data and in May, the company released guidelines for law enforcement requests, specifying what information the company can and cannot retrieve from devices after receiving a search warrant.
In an interview with ABC, Cook publicly discussed the NSA's surveillance operations and once again assured users that the Government does not have access to Apple's servers. "They would have to cart us out in a box for that. And that just will not happen," he said. "I've been pushing very, very hard to open the books and be totally transparent."
Along with Apple, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo also received a full six star rating from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
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