Online Privacy Protection Scorecard

Scorecard grades tech companies’ online privacy protection efforts

We trust our information with companies every day, but online privacy protection may not be their highest priority.

Some of the most widely-used tech companies in the world do a miserable job of protecting users’ online privacy. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has gathered data on the privacy protection efforts practiced by organizations like WordPress, Apple, Comcast and others (many of whom have also been victims of data security breaches recently) for its annual “report card.” Then it awarded stars to the companies as if they were hotels.

The results are abysmal for anyone who still thinks that corporate behemoths have their users’ best interests at heart.

Stars were given based on how well a company performed in various categories. Out of 18 companies measured, only two passed with flying colors in all six categories: Twitter and internet service provider The rest scored poorly. Facebook earned 3 out of 6 starsApple and AT&T scored one star and Verizon struck out with zeroes across the board. If this were a real report card, most of these companies would have been expelled.

One category assesses whether these businesses enforce transparencyor the ease with which you can access and understand the data that they are collecting on you. Another category judges how much of your information they share, when requested, with the government. Although LinkedIn and—surprisingly—Google performed well in this area, social networks like FourSquare, Facebook, and MySpace came up short

Yahoo recently agreed to purchase Tumblr for the very purpose of aggregating more of Tumblr-users’ data. According to the report card, Yahoo makes little effort to protect your privacy, and Tumblr isn’t much better.

Paying attention to online privacy protection is like weeding your garden. If you don’t take some time to do it early in the Spring, you’ll spend the rest of the year unsuccessfully trying to undo the consequences.

John Sileo is an online privacy protection expert and professional speaker on building digital trust. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer, Visa, and Homeland Security. See his recent media appearances on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox Business.