The report ranks big internet and telecommunications companies on a scale of 1 to 100 in three key categories: governance (company leadership and oversight), freedom of expression, and privacy.
The three scores were averaged to create an overall score, and none of the tech giants came out looking good.
Google is at the top, with an overall score of 65, followed by Microsoft at 62, Yahoo at 58, and Facebook at 53. Twitter is in sixth place with 48, and Apple came in seventh with a sorry 35. And Samsung? Just 26.
35 point curve
When first place only gets 65 percent, something’s wrong.
Why do these companies suck at protecting your data?
“In some cases, it’s because of government requirements to do certain things or prohibiting certain things,” says Nathalie Maréchal, a senior fellow with Ranking Digital Rights. “For example, the FBI issues National Security Letters to tech companies, which come with a gag order. These demands for user information prohibit the user, the telecommunications company, their attorneys, and anyone else from even mentioning the existence of the demand, which is not vetted by a judge or court of law.”
Privacy for sale
And then there’s the whole “we sell your data to make money” aspect of pretty much all internet and telecom companies.
Targeted advertising is nearly inescapable.
Maréchal describes this as “inherent tension” between profit and privacy, and it should make us wonder why we ever thought our info was safe with these guys in the first place.
High and dry
Samsung in particular also suffers from delayed security updates from Google, which are often due to Android OS tweaks that require the Google update to be correspondingly tweaked to work with each version of Android.
And older devices that are no longer supported by their manufacturers are often left unprotected.
But of the three wireless device manufacturers in the report (Apple, Google, and Samsung), only Google guarantees a timeline for software updates.
Get on the same page
The main takeaway from the report is that transparency is sorely lacking in these industries.
Because of this, as the report concludes, “most of the world’s internet users lack the information they need to make informed choices.”