Internet and technology rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has praised the improved transparency of Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, among others, which it says have upped their game in response to the public reaction to Edward Snowden's NSA-related whistleblowing.
Referring to the findings of the EFF's second study into how tech firms respond to government and law enforcement data requests, activism director Rainey Reitman said: "The sunlight brought about by a year's worth of Snowden leaks appears to have prompted dozens of companies to improve their policies when it comes to giving user data to the government.
"Our report charts objectively verifiable categories of how tech companies react when the government seeks user data, so users can make informed decisions about which companies they should trust with their information."
The EFF report has studied how 26 technology firms respond to government and law enforcement data requests, and how they protect and support the rights of their users.
While some organisations including Snapchat came out relatively badly, others got top marks and were awarded gold stars across the board.
"Snapchat joins AT&T and Comcast in failing to require a warrant for government access to the content of communications. That means the government can obtain extraordinarily sensitive information about your activities and communications without convincing a judge that there is probable cause to collect it," said EFF staff attorney Nate Cardozo.
"We urge these companies to change course and give their users this simple and needed protection from government overreach."
In contrast, Microsoft, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Dropbox, Yahoo and Twitter were awarded a star in each of the six categories, and praised for defending users in court, for keeping them informed about data requests and their rights, and for being as open about law enforcement rights and means as is possible.
Apple and Yahoo were singled out for special praise for their dramatic improvment over the past year. In 2013, Apple earned only one star, but has scored 6 out of 6 this time around. Yahoo also jumped to earning credit in all 6 categories this year, making remarkable progress in every category, the EFF said.
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