When it comes to sharing your data with the government, not all online companies are created equal. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released its yearly report on which companies keep user data the safest, from Apple to Yahoo, and discovered that some of the most controversial companies actually do the best job.
The information comes from an EFF report entitled "Who Has Your Back? 2014: Protecting Your Data From Government Requests." The EFF evaluated 26 Internet companies, including Amazon, AT&T, Comcast, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Snapchat and Twitter, on six criteria to determine how eager each was to share private user data with government entities.
Companies could earn up to six stars, one for each category: "Requires a warrant for content," "Tells users about government data requests," "Publishers transparency reports," "Publishers law enforcement guidelines," "Fights for users' privacy rights in courts" and "Fights for users' privacy rights in Congress." Of the companies evaluated, nine earned six out of six stars; only one company earned an ignominious one out of six.
The EFF awarded perfect scores to Apple, Credo Mobile, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sonic.net, Twitter and Yahoo. For those who may not be familiar with them, Credo Mobile is a small wireless carrier and Sonic.net is a cable company in California.
Snapchat alone earned only one star ("Publishers law enforcement guidelines"), but it had company near the bottom of the barrel: Amazon and AT&T scored only two stars apiece. Neither has ever told users about government data requests or appeared before Congress on behalf of users.
These results may surprise those who read the first batch of National Security Agency files leaked by Edward Snowden in June 2013, in which it appeared the NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ could use the PRISM program to access files from Apple, Facebook, Google and other companies with relative impunity. The EFF appears to be evaluating how willing companies are to share and defend data, though, not whether the government can supersede the companies' protocols.
While there’s no foolproof way to safeguard every piece of data you store online, the EFF report demonstrates that some companies take better care of your private data than others. If you use Amazon, AT&T or Snapchat on a regular basis, you may want to limit the amount of personal information you share — or find other services to replace them.