Apple Inc has topped the ranking in an annual report published about data privacy policies and data collection practices while WhatsApp is among the lowest ranked companies in the post-WikiLeaks era. In today’s world, data privacy and personal information security are considered of prime importance, and apps, gadgets and services are judged based on the security and firewall protection that they provide.
With the increase in the number of apps for payments and money transfers, it becomes all the more important for developers to pay extra attention to ensure that the servers are maintained without any infringement of viruses or hackers. Another important factor that the present-day services and technology companies are being rated on is the way they handle requests for customer data from government agencies.
The annual report on data collection practices of tech companies was published by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). As per the report, major tech giants like Apple Inc, Dropbox, Yahoo, Sonic.net and Adobe were the top ranked organizations for their data privacy policies and data collection practices whereas the Facebook owned WhatsApp languished at the bottom in the post-WikiLeaks age. AT&T was also ranked very low for its practices though the company is a major telecom service provider. Verizon was another telecom giant which scored poorly in the report.
WhatsApp and AT&T received the lowest marks, with only one out of five stars. Verizon scored two stars in the report, which was a major decline for the company as it had scored four stars in the 2014 report with slightly different criteria. Spokespersons from these companies declined to comment about the report and their low ranking in data collection practices and privacy policies.
EFF is a non-profit organization which works to protect digital rights of consumers regardless of technology. The report evaluated companies based on their public positions on the so-called back doors that give the government and its agencies access to customer data. Other factors that the organizations were evaluated on included their transparency to consumers about data retention and data requests.
Technology companies have been under tremendous pressure to be more proactive about sharing details regarding their disclosure and data collection practices. This is also due to the documents leaked by the former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, which revealed the wide-ranging nature of government surveillance programs. Most of the companies have already published reports detailing their transparency policies and revealed the total number of requests that they receive from various government agencies. They have also described the types of data that they share and collect.
Many major tech organizations including Apple Inc, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, have requested the United States President Barack Obama to reject certain policies that would weaken the encryption technologies. They have stated that having these technologies in place is a necessity to protect internet communications. The conclusion from the report published by EFF is that data collection and privacy policies in the technology sector are slowly improving. In the first such report published by EFF in 2011 named ‘Who has your back?’, almost every organization on the list had scored badly. Apple Inc has topped the ranking in the 2015 annual report published about data privacy policies and data collection practices while WhatsApp is among the lowest ranked companies in the post-WikiLeaks era.
By Ankur Sinha
The Verge-AT&T and WhatsApp stung with lowest scores in EFF’s data safety report
The Times Of India-Data privacy: WhatsApp scores poorly, Apple gets top marks
Photo (1) courtesy of Andy’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License
Photo (2) courtesy of Geoff Livingston’s Flickr Page-Creative Commons License