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EFF: Trust Twitter — Not Apple Or Verizon — To Protect Your Privacy 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the trust-a-flash-drive-encased-in-concrete-at-the-bottom-of-the-ocean dept.
tdog17 writes "Verizon and MySpace scored a zero out of a possible six stars in a test of how far 18 technology service providers will go to protect user data from government data demands. Twitter and Internet service provider Sonic.net scored a perfect six in the third annual Electronic Frontier Foundation 'Who Has Your Back?' report. Apple, AT&T and Yahoo ranked near the bottom, each scoring just one star. 'While we are pleased by the strides these companies have made over the past couple years, there’s plenty of room for improvement. 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. Apple and AT&T are members of the Digital Due Process coalition, but don’t observe any of the other best practices we’re measuring. ... We remain disappointed by the overall poor showing of ISPs like AT&T and Verizon in our best practice categories.'"
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EFF: Trust Twitter — Not Apple Or Verizon — To Protect Your Privacy

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  • What is this Reddit? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:18AM (#43598699)

    EFF never said "Trust Twitter — Not Apple Or Verizon — To Protect Your Privacy"

    • by Chrisq (894406)

      EFF never said "Trust Twitter — Not Apple Or Verizon — To Protect Your Privacy"

      Typical slashdot summary. It should be clear that this only refers to responses to law enforcement and government requests, and does not look at data security, what they do with the data themselves, or what they pass on to third parties in commercial deals

    • by linest (157204)

      No, it's slashdot. Whether that makes it better or worse would make for a reasonable discussion. If you're aware of a place where reasonable discussions happen on the Internet, feel free to clue me in. We'll go there and have one. I would rule out any of the sites thusfar mentioned.

    • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @07:07AM (#43598963)

      EFF never said "Trust Twitter â" Not Apple Or Verizon â" To Protect Your Privacy"

      Just as well. If you value your privacy, there's only one way to protect it, and that is to simply keep your private stuff private. As soon as you put it into someone else's hands, you're fucked.

      As Benjamin Franklin said, "Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead".

      • And when the option to keep your private stuff private is removed without your knowledge? What then?

        It leads me to a similar problem I have with the current approach to privacy. That whole concept of 'no expectation of privacy' is only relevant to the concept that you cannot make something private again once it has been made public, not that everything about you is public unless it is kept in a closet in your house with no windows and lead walls.

        • by ryanmc1 (682957)

          And when the option to keep your private stuff private is removed without your knowledge?

          This doesn't make any sense. If all your private stuff is only in your head, then how is it "removed without your knowledge"? I think the point of the GP was that if you don't want others to know about something, then:
          1. don't do it in public where others can see it
          2. don't do it in private in front of a webcam
          3. don't put it on the internet, (ie Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Apple)

          I am sure there are others, but the point is, keep your private stuff to yourself and you have nothing to worry about.

          Peop

          • by ryanmc1 (682957)
            4. don't take pictures of it
          • The point is that it is unreasonable to expect people to live their entire lives in sealed container only conducting business with the outside world via a trusted third party just to have a chance to preserve some privacy.

            The point is that to function as a human being you shouldn't be required to surrender all of your privacy simply to interact with other humans.

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:22AM (#43598703)

    The EFF ranks these companies based on what they say they do for privacy. Nobody knows what they actually do. For all we know, Twitter may be an FBI/CIA front, or bound by some gag order. You can't trust online providers at all, and any use of an online service is a calculated risk, trading some privacy for some utility. Publishing this kind of nonsense, the EFF does more harm than good, by giving users a false sense of privacy and security.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by beelsebob (529313)

      Indeed, Apple for example ranks poorly because they say nothing, about anything, ever. The same reason that Greenpeace scored them poorly for environmental friendliness –they'd published no reports saying "we will eliminate xyz chemical from our packaging by abc year", mostly because they'd already eliminated xyz chemical.

      • I'm a pretty good chemist, but have never heard of this "xyz" chemical. Would you care to enlighten us?

        In any case, Apple would have to be well up there in any list of over-packagers. And as an exhibition of the triumph of form over substance, it works brilliantly.
        • by beelsebob (529313)

          In any case, Apple would have to be well up there in any list of over-packagers.

          Really? Their packaging is rarely larger than the item it encases by half an inch to an inch in each dimension. What makes you think they're high on the list of over packagers?

          • Really? Their packaging is rarely larger than the item it encases by half an inch to an inch in each dimension. What makes you think they're high on the list of over packagers?

            Because their boxes are seriously overbuilt. The box an iPhone comes in is very nice but is far more robust and expensive packaging than is actually required for the purpose of safely conveying the product to customer's hands. They use it for marketing and to convey a sense of quality but there is no question that they over package their products.

            • Because their boxes are seriously overbuilt. The box an iPhone comes in is very nice but is far more robust and expensive packaging than is actually required for the purpose of safely conveying the product to customer's hands. They use it for marketing and to convey a sense of quality but there is no question that they over package their products.

              I'm not sure I fully agree. If their product came damaged because of cheap packaging, the world would be up in arms about a $500+ device being damaged during shipping.

              Also, Apple packaging is mostly just cardboard which is easy to recycle. Most of the other products I buy have packaging loaded with cardboard, Styrofoam (or press paper forms), plastic bags around everything, and plastic or wire cable ties. Apple has a screen protector, tiny plastic band around cables, and some cardboard.

              • I'm not sure I fully agree. If their product came damaged because of cheap packaging, the world would be up in arms about a $500+ device being damaged during shipping.

                Apple could use considerably less expensive packaging and still keep the product safe. In a past life I owned a company that shipped about 10,000 custom packages a year. I know from first hand experience that Apple's packaging is more than is necessary to keep the product (reasonably) safe. While it is very nice, Apple's packaging is done the way it is for marketing.

                Also, Apple packaging is mostly just cardboard which is easy to recycle.

                Just because something can be recycled doesn't mean one should use more of it. The phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" indicates the order in w

                • by tlhIngan (30335)

                  Just because something can be recycled doesn't mean one should use more of it. The phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" indicates the order in which those things should be done. It's better to Reduce than the Reuse and better to Reuse than Recycle. Apple could easily reduce their cardboard use by using thinner cardboard while still keeping their products intact for delivery. Since the boxes are so nice they also could offer to reuse them if you drop them off at one of their stores. Paper making is a nasty, waste

                  • by sjbe (173966)

                    And I'm sure Apple has done the analysis to ensure that if they could use thinner cardboard, they would to save money.

                    I'm sure they have as well and they've chosen to use thicker cardboard than necessary for marketing reasons. It takes a little searching to find but Apple has admitted publicly that their packaging is very much overbuilt to convey an image of quality from the moment you get your hands on the box. It's actually quite a clever detail and my guess is that they believe (perhaps rightly) the perception of quality is worth more revenue than the cost savings from using only the minimum amount of packaging requir

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        Indeed, Apple for example ranks poorly because they say nothing, about anything, ever.

        That's not exactly true.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Er, no.

        Apple scored poorly for environmental friendliness because they were demonstrably still using specific chemicals and types of non-recyclable plastic as well as having a planned obsolescence programme on their devices by making it difficult for users to replace batteries, whilst at the time selling devices whose batteries would at best last a few years before beginning to seriously lose charge creating an unnecessary surplus of binned devices increasing the landfill problem unnecessarily.

        Apple actuall

        • by beelsebob (529313)

          Actually, the only practice apple changed significantly was that they started publishing environmental reports asserting all the things that were already happening. Greenpeace increased their score only because reports were published, despite the fact that nothing changed.

        • Apple scored poorly for environmental friendliness because they were demonstrably still using specific chemicals and types of non-recyclable plastic as well as having a planned obsolescence programme on their devices by making it difficult for users to replace batteries, whilst at the time selling devices whose batteries would at best last a few years before beginning to seriously lose charge creating an unnecessary surplus of binned devices increasing the landfill problem unnecessarily.

          You could try to post which chemicals Apple was using at a time when other manufacturers stopped using them. I doubt you can find any evidence of this. On the other hand, it is well documented that Apple hadn't _promised_ to remove BFRs from their products (bromine flame retardants) because they were already gone, which lead to Greenpeace rating Apple much lower than for example HP who promised to remove BFRs at some point in the future.

          Older "non-replacable" batteries are easily replaced by anyone who c

    • WE do know Twitter seems very happy to roll over and hand your data over. They shouldn't get any stars.
  • Hahaha (Score:1, Troll)

    by beelsebob (529313)

    This says I should trust google with all my data hahahaha Seriously? What the fuck.

    • Joke's on you... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @06:11AM (#43598819) Journal

      This says I should trust google with all my data

      Actually, it says that Google is better than Microsoft or Facebook at protecting user's data from government requests, and much better than Apple or Amazon (to pick a few). Trust is not implied; companies are scored on items on which they should be distrusted. Google scores nearer the better end of that scale than Microsoft or Facebook, and companies like Apple (unsurprisingly) are among the worst.

    • Re:Hahaha (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Xest (935314) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @07:45AM (#43599065)

      Yes, because contrary to all the pro-Microsoft, anti-Google FUD that gets posted around, Google is one of the few companies that's actually done a fairly decent job of protecting data. Even in the case where they collected a bunch of Wifi data with their street cars there's a) No evidence they did anything with it, and b) It was them who approached the various government agencies responsible for protecting privacy around the globe admitting they fucked up rather than simply deleting it and trying to cover it up.

      Compare this to companies like Microsoft, whom I know has sold my MSN contact list details on given that links have been made to people with whom I have zero connection other than via MSN messenger on Facebook and LinkedIn and Facebook that has explicitly broken the law by breaching the Data Protection Act by allowing friends to opt 3rd party companies in to accessing my data - something which only I can legally do.

      Therein lies the problem, the gulf between the FUD spread by Microsoft and Facebook about Google and the reality of how bad Google actually is is quite large. I've yet to find one shred of evidence of Google passing my data on without my permission, or in a way I did not expect, which is more than can be said by just about every other tech company including companies like Oracle that explicitly send me marketing e-mails despite explicitly opting out on sign up.

      As the summary points out, Google also publishes a transparency report and such, and provides links to original copies of DMCA requests where they've received them and had to act on them. This is all far more than most other companies.

      It's not that I'm a fanboy, I can't particularly say I support any company given that they're there to make money off me at the end of the day so hence I can never trust that they have my best interests at heart, but what I can personally judge companies on is the reality of how they've acted with regards to me personally, and both right now and historically, Google is still by far one of the most ethical tech companies out there based on empirical evidence in my experience.

      For one, Google doesn't seem to need to pay for stupid FUD campaigns that have become so obvious and annoying that Microsoft and others have been doing so prominently. That alone says a lot.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yup, FUD's strong there. Just for most popular example:

        If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place

        ... Or if you have attention span longer than one second and don't just repeat a sound bite:

        If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines, including Google, do retain this information for some time. And it’s important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities.

        So a warning not to trust third parties online becomes "Let them eat cake!"

        • by amiga3D (567632)

          At the end of the day you have to show some sense. It is almost impossible for even the major tech companies to safeguard their own info. Why do you think they can safeguard yours? If there is something you are doing that you don't want people to know about the last place you need to put info about it is on the internet. Laws aside that is just plain stupid. If someone guarantees your privacy on the internet assume it is a lie and life will be better for you. Honestly if I was engaged in criminal acti

          • by Xest (935314)

            Absolutely but the difference is that whilst Microsoft, Facebook et. al. seem happy to sell your data as is and without even bothering to anonymise it to whoever has a bit of cash even if that means breaking privacy laws in some of the jurisdictions they operate then they do, but in contrast, Google at least doesn't seem to.

            It's that subtle difference between not giving a shit about where your data goes and what happens to it with Microsoft and Facebook and actively profiting off it's distribution, even if

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        The only one I can think of is apparently passing user contact information to the developers of apps in Google Play. I didn't realize they did this, and to date the information has not been abused, but I wasn't aware they did it.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          That's just the business and legal structure of a marketplace versus a store. Consider the Ebay and Amazon marketplaces, which have the same basic structure. They provide the venue for sale and can even process sales, but your transaction is actually with the merchant rather than Google, Ebay, or Amazon.

          This distinction is extremely important from a business and legal liability perspective. For example, a marketplace is clearly eligible for a DMCA safe harbor exception for copyright violations, but a store

      • Even in the case where they collected a bunch of Wifi data with their street cars there's a) No evidence they did anything with it, and b) It was them who approached the various government agencies responsible for protecting privacy around the globe admitting they fucked up rather than simply deleting it and trying to cover it up.

        Not claiming Microsoft isn't worse than Google, but you might be interested to know that point b is not entirely correct. It is the version often being repeated on sites like Slashdot, for some reason, but the actual sequence of events as extensively covered in European press [guardian.co.uk] as it happened:

        Google actually first guaranteed the German authorities that they were not collecting anything. And first after the German authorities despite this assurance still demanded a full audit of the data anyway, did Google d

  • Not who to trust (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdotNO@SPAMspad.co.uk> on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:30AM (#43598723) Homepage

    This isn't who to trust, this is who is the least worst when it comes to handing over your information to the government or various corporate interests using the government as their proxy (RIAA, etc.).

    Nothing in this report accounts for how the companies themselves treat your private data, just how they respond to requests from law enforcement.

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:44AM (#43598759)
    none of it, not even slashdot either
    • There is a new one:
      "My slashdot account number is higher because I'm less gullible" vs "My slashdot account number is lower because I joined up earlier than you"

      Been on slashdot since '97, I didn't create an account for years.

      • by FudRucker (866063)
        my first one was older than your's, but i used to be much more of an abrasive & vile troll and slashdot revoked my oldest account, i have since mellowed with age and had to "tone it down" so now the worst i do is light sarcasm and the occasional snide remark
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:59AM (#43598799)

    That means "Trust Apple and Verizon less than you would trust Twitter... if you trusted Twitter".

    • That means "Trust Apple and Verizon less than you would trust Twitter... if you trusted Twitter".

      The takeaway here is that you should use secure encryption for all your data. Really, in this day and age there's no reason not to -- you don't have to trust anyone. Just use encryption that allows you to "trust no one".

      I use SSL encryption for all my GMail, and I proxy my traffic through Tor -- They might have compromised exit nodes, so I just use a single hop local private Tor node, so I know it's not compromised; Bonus, it's very low latency. I use a nickname in real life and go by a different name

    • by greg1104 (461138)

      When they say that Twitter has your back, that means they cover 140 square inches of it. That's definitely not all of it though, and it doesn't even come closing to reaching where they will cover your ass.

  • Why should Twitter waste effort sending any private data to the government when the government can just easily hack Twitter accounts?
  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @11:23AM (#43600825)
    IIRC someone or some entity was storing all the tweets anyway. You have no privacy there to protect - it's explicitly public. It's almost like the EFF is trolling for the government in this case - put your private life out there in public so the government won't even have to ask anyone to violate your privacy to investigate you ;-)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You realize by putting Apple in the title (presumably to troll us, since it wasn't the two that were ranked the bottom) guarantees that no one will click the link?

    The pro-apple people will dismiss it and go right to comments. The apple-haters never read these articles, just post crap that wasn't in the article (and get modded 5).

    The uninterested parties skip them over.

    And those driven completely insane try to talk sense . . . oh wait. Noooooo!

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