Electronic Frontier Foundation+Requires warrant for content
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Requires warrant for content

Does the company require the government to get a warrant supported by probable cause before handing over contents of user communications?

Company
Industry
Project
search
Year
Metric value
Companies Values

LinkedIn

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Wickr

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Facebook Inc.

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Myspace

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Tumblr

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Yahoo

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Internet Archive

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Pinterest

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Verizon Communications Inc.

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Adobe Systems

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Credo

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Wikimedia

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Twitter

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Apple Inc.

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Foursquare

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Microsoft Corporation

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

SpiderOak

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Wordpress

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Google Inc.

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

Amazon.com, Inc.

2014 = Yes /Yes,No

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Yes and No


About

Companies earn recognition if they require the government to get a warrant supported by probable cause before they will hand over the contents of user communications.

EFF have this category because they believe that the Fourth Amendment protects communications stored with service providers, and the government must have a search warrant before it can seize those messages. This view was upheld by the 2010 Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in United States v. Warshak. This decision was a critical victory for Internet privacy, but represents the holding of one appeals court—and thus is not binding legal precedent throughout the entire country.

EFF awards stars to companies that commit to following the Warshak standard nationwide. When companies require a warrant before turning over private messages to law enforcement, they ensure that private communications online are treated consistently with the protections the Fourth Amendment gives to communications that occur offline.

Methodology

EFF entrust its most sensitive, private, and important information to technology companies like Google, Facebook, and Verizon. Collectively, these companies are privy to the conversations, photos, social connections, and location data of almost everyone online. The choices these companies make affect the privacy of every one of their users. So which companies stand with their users, embracing transparency around government data requests? Which companies have resisted improper government demands by fighting for user privacy in the courts and on Capitol Hill? In short, which companies have your back?

These questions are even more important in the wake of the past year’s revelations about mass surveillance, which showcase how the United States government has been taking advantage of the rich trove of data EFF entrust to technology companies to engage in surveillance of millions of innocent people in the US and around the world. Internal NSA documents and public statements by government officials confirm that major telecommunications companies are an integral part of these programs. EFF is also faced with unanswered questions, conflicting statements, and troubling leaked documents which raise real questions about the government’s ability to access to the information they entrust to social networking sites and webmail providers.

The legal landscape is unsettled. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other organizations have filed constitutional challenges to mass surveillance programs. Both Congress and President Obama are negotiating legislative reform that could curtail or even end bulk surveillance programs, while other Congressional proposals would instead enshrine them into law. In multiple recent public opinion polls, the American people attest that they believe government surveillance has gone too far.

In the face of unbounded surveillance, users of technology need to know which companies are willing to take a stand for the privacy of their users.

In this fourth-annual report, EFF examines the publicly-available policies of major Internet companies—including Internet service providers, email providers, mobile communications tools, telecommunications companies, cloud storage providers, location-based services, blogging platforms, and social networking sites—to assess whether they publicly commit to standing with users when the government seeks access to user data. The purpose of this report is to allow users to make informed decisions about the companies with whom they do business. It is also designed to incentivize companies to adopt best practices, be transparent about how data flows to the government, and to take a stand for their users’ privacy in Congress and in the courts whenever it is possible to do so.

The categories EFF evaluates in this report represent objectively verifiable, public criteria and so cannot and do not evaluate secret surveillance. They compiled the information in this report by examining each company’s published terms of service, privacy policy, transparency report, and guidelines for law enforcement requests, if any. As part of their evaluation, they contacted each company to explain treir findings and to give them an opportunity to provide evidence of improving policies and practices.

Download the complete Who Has Your Back? 2014: Protecting Your Data From Government Requests report as a PDF.

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