In this year's annual "Who Has Your Back?" report, companies including Apple (AAPL), Dropbox, WordPress and Yahoo! (YHOO) received five stars for following industry-accepted best practices, telling their users about government data demands, disclosing policies on data retention and government content removal requests, and adopting pro-user public policies against back doors. By contrast, WhatsApp earned a poor one-star rating in its first year in the report. While WhatsApp got credit from the EFF for Facebook's public position against back doors, the foundation said it hasn't adopted any of the best practices identified in the report.
"WhatsApp should publicly require a warrant before turning over user content, publish a law enforcement guide and transparency report, have a stronger policy of informing users of government requests, and disclose its data retention policies" the EFF wrote.
For four years, the organization notes, it has "documented the practices of major Internet companies and service providers, judging their publicly available policies and highlighting best practices. Over the course of those first four reports, we watched a transformation take place among the practices of major technology companies. Overwhelmingly, tech giants began publishing annual reports about government data requests, promising to provide users notice when the government sought access to their data, and requiring a search warrant before handing over user content. Those best practices we identified in early reports became industry standards in a few short years."
The EFF noted that telecoms Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) received poor results, continuing a trend from prior years, where large telecom providers sometimes fail to keep pace with the rest of the technology industry.