This is the 2011 report. Be sure to see our most recent Who Has Your Back? report for updated information.

When the Government Comes Knocking, Who Has Your Back?

On Monday, April 11, 2011, we launched a petition to the largest Internet companies asking them to stand with their users and be transparent in their practices. Here's a chart showing how we think each of the companies is doing right now — a gold star indicates that the company is doing a stellar job, a half-star indicates they are taking steps in the right direction. This page will be updated as companies change their practices in response to public demand.

(See details below the chart, including who to contact for changes.)

Tell users about data demands Be transparent about government requests Fight for user privacy in the courts Fight for user privacy in Congress
Amazon
Apple
AT&T
Comcast
Dropbox
Facebook
Google
Microsoft
MySpace
Skype
Twitter
Verizon
Yahoo

Our 2011 petition to the largest Internet companies asked them to stand with their users and be transparent in their practices.

Details on what we're asking for:

  1. Promise to inform users when their data is sought by the government
    Internet companies should promise to tell users when their data is being sought by the government and give users a chance to defend themselves, unless prohibited by law — like Twitter promises to do and did in the Wikileaks investigation.
  2. Be transparent about when you hand over data to the government
    Companies should publish reports on how often they provide user data to governments worldwide, like Google does. These reports should include all demands that can be disclosed under the law. Companies should also make public the policies they have about sharing data with the government such as guides for law enforcement, like Twitter does.
  3. Fight for users' privacy rights in the courts and in Congress
    Companies should resist overbroad demands, like Yahoo did recently, and should disclose no more information than required by law. Internet companies should support efforts to modernize electronic privacy laws to defend users in the digital age, like the Digital Due Process Coalition members do.

Updates to the chart

We reviewed privacy practices and court histories to create our chart of company practices, but if we missed anything we'd like to hear from you. If you are a representative of one of the companies above, please contact cindy@eff.org to submit a change. This is a race to the top to see which companies are the most committed to user rights — so please let us know if you've improved your practices in any way. We'll list improvements in the timeline below, and we'll also post on the Deeplinks blog every time a company achieves 4 stars.

Timeline

April 11, 2011 EFF launched our chart. No company has four full stars.
April 14, 2011 After discussions with Google, we've reviewed the company's briefing in Gonzales v. Google. In that case, the government tried to force Google to turn over users' search records so that the Justice Department could use them as evidence to defend the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). Google relied mostly on non-privacy arguments to fend off the demand, but did cite user privacy as a reason why it wouldn't comply. For this reason, we've decided to give the company a full star for standing up for user privacy in the courts.
April 20, 2011 The American Civil Liberties Union joined EFF by launching a parallel campaign calling on companies to stand by their users when the government comes knocking.
June 6, 2011 Based on submissions submitted via Facebook, Twitter and email, EFF held a run-off campaign to add a 13th company to our list. Today, based on user votes submitted via Facebook and email, we added Dropbox to our petition. They currently have no stars. Check out the Facebook poll.
September 22, 2011 Apple and Dropbox are awarded stars in the "fight for user privacy in Congress" column, for joining the Digital Due Process coalition.
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