The Electronic Frontier Foundation, or the EFF, fights the good fight. An international non-profit digital rights group, the nonprofit is famous for standing up against big companies who think they can use baseless legal threats or intimidation to deny users their rights. But now they are setting their sights on Apple. Who is right?
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While you’re snapping a pic of your lunch to share over Instagram, protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, are using the same app to upload videos of journalists getting arrested.
Social media has been credited with lighting a fire under the story of the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in this St. Louis suburb. The news of roiling protests reached the Gaza strip, where people there hit Twitter sharing tips on what to do when you’ve been tear gassed.
When we share our innermost thoughts on a blog, send pictures of loved ones through Facebook, or even divulge the unhealthy foods we ate for dinner from our iPhone, we trust the companies that run those services with our data. Companies like Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Companies like Dropbox, AT&T, Foursquare, and Linked In.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), initially funded by three big donors in 1990 including Apple’s own Steve Wozniak, published its third yearly report on the best and worst of these companies.
The results may surprise you: Apple has one of the worst scores on the chart.
The Cupertino company gets only one star – on par with internet behemoth Yahoo and telcom giant AT&T – and that was awarded for fighting for privacy rights in congress. (It’s worth noting that Yahoo’s one star gets an extra sparkly patina due to the company’s “silent battle for user privacy” in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court).
The report examined the public policies of major internet companies, including service providers, cloud storage companies, blogging platforms, social networking sites, and the like, to figure out whether they were committed to backing us up when our own government wants access to our data. The point of the report is to motivate companies to be more transparent, and do better.
EFF’s scorecard was released in the spring, before NSA and PRISM were in the spotlight, but the criteria were prescient.
Companies were rated by whether they:
- Require a warrant for content of communications.
- Tell users about government data requests.
- Publish transparency reports.
- Publish law enforcement guidelines.
- Fight for users’ privacy rights in courts.
- Fight for users’ privacy in Congress.
Apple earned its lone star for joining the Digital Due Process Coalition. However it does not require a warrant, tell users about government data requests, publish transparent reports or law enforcement guidelines, nor does it fight for users’ privacy rights in court.
Compare this to a company like Twitter, which does all of these things. The microblogging service scores favorably across all the EFF categories, as does internet provider Sonic.net.
Google rates a five out of six, falling short a star for not telling users about government access requests; Dropbox ranks the same, demoted a star for not fighting for users’ privacy rights in court.
Overall, it’s great to know how private our communications are. (Or not, as the case may be.) Reports like this one are a step towards transparency and understanding of our own ability to interact privately, at least within the realm of the law. If a company we trust is cavalier about our own data, perhaps we should contact them and ask them why they aren’t scoring so well. Maybe the companies will make some changes in policy, or maybe they’ll lose some customers when they don’t.
Either way, if privacy is important to you, you can see above exactly how important it isn’t, and the companies it isn’t important to.
You can download the full PDF report here.
Everyone’s favorite digital rights crusaders Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have just released an annual report, ranking the biggest companies in tech for who does the best job protecting your data from being rifled through by the Federal Government.
Google’s really good about it. Apple? They’ll give away all your emails and data if the government just breathes on them, and they won’t bother telling you about it either.
It can be easy to get “unlocking” and “jailbreaking” confused, but the two terms mean totally different things. Unlocking refers to freeing your phone to work on any carrier instead of just the one you bought it on. Jailbreaking is the process of circumventing Apple’s security measures in iOS to install tweaks, hacks, and mods that aren’t allowed in the App Store.
The U.S. Library of Congress has ruled that it is now illegal for you to unlock your smartphone if it was bought after January 26th, 2013. Carriers can still legally unlock your device for you, but it’s illegal to go through a third-party unlock vendor.
Jailbreaking your iPhone has been kept legal through 2015 under an exemption in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The crazy catch is that jailbreaking the iPad has technically been made illegal, while the iPhone and iPod touch both remain exempt. So jailbreaking is safe mostly, but unofficial unlocking is not. This is important to mention as the iOS 6.1 jailbreak approaches.
Keeping up with the U.S. legal system is very confusing, so what does all this unlocking and jailbreaking legal jargon mean for you?
We’ve got a first here folks. Today, we have a “Name Your Own Price” (NYOP) bundle of 9 awesome Mac apps like Forklift 2, Typinator, MacFlux 4, and a little twist. See, in addition to naming your own price (yes you can even buy it for a $1, though the suggested prices is $49), 10% of what you spend goes to either EFF, charity water, or Stand Up To Cancer.
See? Sure you might want to just name a cheepo price for the bundle…but that means a great charity gets less money too. Hmmm.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been challenging Apple to higher standards for quite some time. Carrying the slogan “defending your rights in the digital world,” the EFF frequently calls out tech companies and related policies when it thinks ramifications could be negative for consumers. The EFF challenged Apple to defend its third-party developers against the Lodsys patent troll, has repeatedly addressed the company’s “anti-competieve” strategies, and so on.
In a new post today, the EFF has proposed that Apple let users of its iOS platform break through the “beautiful crystal prison” and have more control over the OS. The EFF also argues that OS X is becoming more of a restricted platform on the Mac, and that Apple should pave the way for a more open culture leading into the future.
When most of us here words like forensics, we picture an episode of CSI or NCIS. We think of ballistics results form a murder scene or fingerprints on a gun. An iPhone or iPad isn’t the first automatic visual that comes to mind. Yet more and more iPhones and iPads are becoming the subjects of forensic investigations according to warrants issued via the U.S. federal court system.
Attention dissidents, free-thinkers or just people who are plain on the run: now you can take your iPad with you and not get caught. Onion Browser is a Universal iOS web browser which will hook into the Tor network to provide you with anonymous browsing, wherever you are.
The U.S. government declared the act of jailbreaking legal on July 26, 2010, encouraging hundreds of thousands of iOS users into hacking their devices, safe in the knowledge that their actions would incur no legal repercussions. The ruling certainly had a huge on the jailbreaking community, but the tables could be set to turn once again.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), jailbreaking could become illegal again this year, but you can do your bit to prevent it.