Apple has been recognised for its efforts in defending user data from government requests by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
Apple has stronger user rights protection policies than Google or Facebook when protecting your data from government requests, a civil liberties organisation has found.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) assessed that practices and publicly-available policies of the world’s major technology companies and services, and commended Apple for its strong stance on user rights, transparency and privacy.
Apple demands a warrant prior to handing over data to law enforcement and promises to provide advance notice to users about government data demands. It discloses both data retention policies and the number of times governments have sought the removal of user accounts/content (including how often the company complies). To date, less than 0.00571 per cent of Apple customers’ data has been disclosed due to a government information request, and between 250 – 499 such requests were logged in the last six months of 2014.
The report also praises the Californian company’s open opposition to working with governments to create easily-accessible loopholes to provide access to customer information.
“Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a “back door” in any of our products or services,” the company said in a statement. “We have also never allowed any government access to our servers. And we never will.”
Chief executive Tim Cook has taken a firm stance on the protection of privacy, telling the Telegraph earlier this year that the public had a ‘human right’ to live without interference.
“None of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information,” he said. “This is a basic human right. We all have a right to privacy. We shouldn’t give it up. We shouldn’t give in to scare-mongering or to people who fundamentally don’t understand the details.”
“They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetise it,” he said. “We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be.”
The Conservative party are planning new laws to force some of the world’s biggest internet companies including Google, Apple and Facebook to hand over encrypted messages from terror suspects, it was reported last month.
New laws under the Investigatory Powers Bill could force the companies to share customer data with MI5, MI6 and GCHQ about suspects under investigation.
The EFF awarded Apple five stars for its practices, while Facebook was awarded four and Google only three. The organisation called on Facebook to disclose when it blocks content or is forced to close an account as a result of a government practice, and for Google to take a stronger position in providing notice to users about government data requests after an emergency has ended or a gag has been lifted, and be more transparent about its data retention policies.
Adobe, Yahoo, WordPress, Dropbox and Credo were also awarded five stars for their strong and transparent policies. However, WhatsApp messenger service scored the lowest of all, garnering only one star.
“This is WhatsApp’s first year in the report, and although EFF gave the company a full year to prepare for its inclusion in the report, it has adopted none of the best practices we’ve identified as part of this report,” the statement read. “We appreciate the steps that WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook has taken to stand by its users, but there is room for WhatsApp to improve.
“WhatsApp should publicly require a warrant before turning over user content, publish a law enforcement guide and transparency report, have a stronger policy of informing users of government requests, and disclose its data retention policies. WhatsApp does get credit for Facebook’s public position opposing back doors, and we commend Facebook for that.”