EFF marks Apple’s ‘significant improvement’ in protecting customer data from governments
EFF marks Apple’s ‘significant improvement’ in protecting customer data from governments in its new report this year.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) yesterday released its annual “Who Has Your Back?” (I’ll abbreviate it WHYB) which evaluates and compares how large companies deal with government data requests. The EFF’s ranking on the transparency of technology companies on the demand for data is remarkable because the organization is the “leading non-profit organization in defense of civil liberties in the digital world“. The report ranks companies based on six categories:
- Requires a warrant for content;
- Notify users about requests for data;
- Publish transparency reports;
- Publish the guidelines of law applications;
- Fights for users’ privacy rights in the courts;
- Fights for user privacy rights in Congress.
This year, Apple received a star for each of the six categories.
EFF notes that this is a significant improvement over the past few years of monitoring where Apple has only received one star:
EFF also provides explanations as to why each company received a star in each category. Here are the details for Apple:
Mandate for content. Apple requires a warrant before providing content to law enforcement. In particular, in his November transparency report he stated:
Inform users about government data requests. Apple has promised to tell users if the government is looking for their data. According to its policy which will be published soon:
Publish transparency report. Apple released its first transparency report in November 2013, detailing by country how many legal requests it had received, complied with, and how many accounts were affected. Apple includes information about FISA court orders under section 215 in its disclosure report.
Law enforcement guides published. Apple publishes its law enforcement guidelines.
Fight for user privacy in the courts. Apple is adding the following statement to its transparency report update, scheduled for May 2014:
Oppose mass surveillance. Apple is a member of the Coalition Surveillance Government Reform, which states that:
Of course, Apple’s focus on significantly improving its data request policies comes in light of the allegations and information regarding NSA surveillance and leaks from former NSA entrepreneur Edward Snowden. Just earlier this month, Apple released new information on how it handles government data requests. Apple has also begun notifying customers that they have had their data requested by government agencies.