Who falls short?
In its report the EFF holds a few giants' feet to the fire, in particular huge ISPs like AT&T and Verizon, as well as Amazon, Facebook, and Yahoo:
Amazon holds huge quantities of information as part of its cloud computing services and retail operations, yet does not promise to inform users when their data is sought by the government, produce annual transparency reports, or publish a law enforcement guide. Facebook has yet to publish a transparency report. Yahoo! has a public record of standing up for user privacy in courts, but it hasn't earned recognition in any of our other categories.
And though Google's score has slipped slightly, due in part to changes in how the EFF rates companies, it earns kudos for challenging a National Security Letter in the courts -- an extremely rare event in any field.
Overall, scores for companies are improving, according to the report. Google, LinkedIn, Dropbox, and SpiderOak all earn five stars, while companies like WordPress, Tumblr, and Foursquare all earned their first stars this year.
But I suspect the reason behind the higher scores may be less cheery. Governments worldwide have wised up to these companies as sources of information about alleged criminals (or dissidents or anyone else on their radar) and are stepping up their attempts to claim that data for their own. Companies that didn't used to worry about producing guidelines for when the feds come calling are now on alert. Cloud storage providers have woken up to the fact that they're big, fat juicy targets for government agents with an insatiable appetite for data and minimal limits on what they can obtain.
That's something to keep in mind as we "celebrate" Privacy Awareness Week. These days that really should be every week.
How are you celebrating privacy awareness? Post your thoughts below or email me: email@example.com.
This article, "EFF reports reveals tech's loosest lips, tightest grips," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.