Privacy Watchdog Applauds Leading Websites

     (CN) – Google, Twitter and other technology giants are fighting outdated privacy laws and protecting users from government intrusion, a new report found.
     The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s second annual “When the Government Comes Knocking, Who Has Your Back?” report studies how well Internet companies protect user privacy.
     In the last year, Facebook and Twitter have made some much welcome improvements, according to the nonprofit.
     The report gives stars to companies based on their apparent performance in four categories – telling users about data demands, transparency about government requests, fighting for user privacy in courts, and fighting for user privacy in Congress.
     Internet service provider received the best rating, with a full star in each of four categories. The company was praised for challenging a government’s demand of data associated with a WikiLeaks volunteer.
     Twitter received three and a half stars, and Google received three. Both companies took half stars for their transparency about government requests for data.
     “While some Internet companies have stepped up for users in particular situations, it’s time for all companies that hold private user data to make public commitments to defend their users against government overreach,” the report states.
     MySpace and Verizon did not receive any stars either last year or this year, Electronic Frontier noted. Comcast and AT&T received one star each.
     “The overall poor showing of AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, who provide Internet connectivity to so many people, is especially troubling,” the report states.
     Electronic Frontier also said 12 of the 18 companies had joined the Digital Due Process Coalition, a group that advocates for greater protections on Internet privacy.
     The coalition works to ensure law enforcement have search warrants when obtaining private data, among other things, according to the report.
     Electronic Frontier’s activism director Rainey Reitman praised the companies that joined the coalition.
     “This should be a wakeup call to Congress to clarify outdated laws so there is no question that government agents need a court-ordered warrant before accessing sensitive location data, email content, and documents stored in the cloud,” Reitman said in a statement.

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