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You Will Never Guess Which Internet Companies Are Failing to Protect Your Data Privacy


Some are better than others.

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Our hippie forebearers of the 1960s, weaned on spy movies and sometimes legitimate threats, were more concerned that us about keeping the government's paws off of any information on them. Those that were most concerned about narcs spying on them with tracking devices and concealed recording devices would be astounded to know that that we actually pay a lot of money to carry these things around in our pockets.

No need for chip implants in our spinal columns or fluoridated water to melt our brains.

A German Green party politician named Malte Spitz used a European privacy law to demand the information that his cell phone carrier had on him. The result was 35,831 facts about him -- where he's been, when he sleeps, where he hangs out, and who he talks to, was all laid out with almost perfect accuracy. Think of what carriers and Internet companies have on you. It's enough to make the tinfoil hat come back into vogue.

Wouldn't the Feds just kill to get their hands on that data?

Sometimes, it doesn't even take a fight. Authorities can just ask Internet companies to hand it over. Some Internet companies just give the authorities your information without even telling you. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit that works to expand free speech and privacy online, published its annual "Who Has Your Back?" study of 18 companies and their record on privacy. The results aren't what you would expect.

The companies were measured on four criteria: commitment to notify users when the government is seeking data on them, transparency about letting the government access your data, resisting government demands for user data in the courts, and lobbying for users' privacy in Congress.

Despite all of the bad press around privacy on Google (GOOG), the search giant ranks high in keeping your data from the government.

Twitter ranked even higher, having fought to protect user privacy in probes relating to Occupy Wall Street and WikiLeaks. A California ISP called is the only company that got all four stars.

Apple (AAPL), AT&T (T), and Microsoft (MSFT) all got just one star for fighting for user privacy in Congress through the Digital Due Process coalition.

Microsoft didn't score very well, but today, made a surprising move to add the Do Not Track feature to the new Internet Explorer. Skype, which is controlled by Microsoft, got zero stars, as did MySpace (NWS), Foursquare, and Verizon (VZ).

LinkedIn (LNKD) and Facebook (FB) scored well in all areas except for fighting for user privacy in the courts.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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