When it comes to privacy, Apple’s ‘got your back’ says EFF

Apple wins best possible EFF score for the way it protects your digital life

Apple, EFF, Privacy, Security, Edward Snowden, Surveillance

Apple has won strong endorsement from the Electronic Frontier Foundation this week, which says, “We commend Apple for its strong stance regarding user rights, transparency, and privacy.”

Just prior to WWDC, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, was nonored for his ‘corporate leadership’ at EPIC’s Champions of Freedom event in Washington.


“Like many of you, we at Apple reject the idea that our customers should have to make tradeoffs between privacy and security,” Cook said. “We can, and we must provide both in equal measure. We believe that people have a fundamental right to privacy. The American people demand it, the constitution demands it, morality demands it.”

Now in the latest (fifth) edition of the EFF’s “Who Has Your Back” report which examines how closely Internet firms guard user privacy, the organization notes: “This is Apple’s fifth year in the report, and it has adopted every best practice we’ve identified as part of this report.”

Among a wide number of pro-privacy initiatives EFF rates highly. Apple’s determination to request warrants and to let users know about data demands; its will to publish its data protection policies and disclosure of content removal requests all put the company high in the EFF list. As does the company’s opposition to working with government to create deliberately weak security ‘back doors”.

Five stars

Apple isn’t the only five-star colonel at the privacy muster. Other five-star ratings were granted to Credo Mobile, Dropbox, Wikimedia, WordPress and Yahoo.

“We entrust countless intimate details about our personal life to digital service providers. Often it’s corporate policies, not legal safeguards, that are our best defense against government intrusion,” said EFF Activism Director Rainey Reitman. “Technology companies must have the strongest possible policies to protect privacy.”

Those firms scoring three stars or less in the EFF’s annual rating of how closely these firms guard user privacy include: Amazon, AT&T, Comcast, Google, Microsoft, Slack, Snapchat, Tumblr, Verizon, and WhatsApp. For most of these a lack of transparency around disclosure of privacy policy or of government data requests appear to be the biggest criticisms.


Apple’s Tim Cook has been bullish concerning the need to protect people’s privacy, in February 2015 he said: “People have entrusted us with their most personal information. We owe them nothing less than the best protections that we can possibly provide by harnessing the technology at our disposal. We must get this right. History has shown us that sacrificing our right to privacy can have dire consequences.”

That’s not to say Apple doesn’t have critics for its position on privacy, not least within some agencies that – apparently – dedicate goodly resources to breaking into Apple’s systems.

Critics also question Apple’s commitment – asking if it is anything other than a marketing ploy designed to give the company a unique market position, but some privacy advocates utterly reject this accusation.


Take Edward Snowden who yesterday said: “I think in the current situation, it doesn’t matter if he’s [Tim Cook] being honest or dishonest…. And regardless of whether it’s honest or dishonest, for the moment, now, that’s something we should support, that’s something we should incentivize, and it’s actually something we should emulate.” (It is interesting to note this message on the Challenge.rs website).

There are also some who argue that “no one cares about privacy any more”. The statistics don’t back their assertion up, “93% of adults say that being in control of who can get information about them is important; 74% feel this is “very important,” while 19% say it is “somewhat important,” according to the reputable Pew Research Center.

Meanwhile Apple under Tim Cook is reinventing privacy as a primary product. It will be good to see if its competitors follow suit in this regard. I won’t be holding my breath.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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