Snapchat Comes In Dead Last On EFF's Privacy Protecting List; Just Days After Getting Spanked By FTC

from the what-privacy dept

Snapchat is often pitched as a more "private" alternative to other messaging apps, considering that a key part of its pitch is that the messages/images you send to others quickly disappear. For years, people have pointed out that Snapchat was overstating the reality when making those claims, and last week the FTC spanked the company for misleading its users about the privacy and security of their messages. And, this week, the "privacy" claims of Snapchat get another black eye as the EFF's latest Who Has Your Back? chart has come out, detailing how various services deal with protecting your privacy from the US government. Want to know who came in dead last? Snapchat:
Just a couple weeks ago, we had noted that a bunch of tech companies had been improving their policies in an attempt to score better on this annual report from the EFF. And, indeed, as you look down the full list, you see a lot more stars than when EFF started this list. Back then, lots of companies only got one star (or less!), though the categories weren't exactly the same (EFF has added a few over the years).

Want to know just how bad Snapchat is? Even AT&T and Comcast score better. Snapchat was the only company with one star. Amazon and AT&T only got two. Comcast (along with Foursquare and Myspace) had three. At the top of the list, Apple, CREDO Mobile, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Sonic.net, Twitter and Yahoo all got five stars. Some might question some of this, given stories of things like Microsoft changing Skype to grant greater government access, but on the specific categories that EFF judges for the ratings, they appear to be accurate.

Of course, to be fair, one of the categories is whether or not the company "fights for users' privacy rights in courts." That's an important measure, but it's also a conditional one. All of the other categories can be done by any company of their own volition, but you can't fight in court if there are no opportunities to go to court to protect your users' privacy. Either way, it's good to see that the EFF chart is having an impact in getting companies to be more aggressive in protecting the privacy of their users from the government. But, really, shame on Snapchat for positioning itself as a privacy option when it appears to do very little to actually protect people's privacy.
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Filed Under: companies, government, privacy, surveillance, who's got your back
Companies: eff, snapchat


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2014 @ 2:10pm

    "Snapchat is often pitched as a more "private" alternative to other messaging apps, considering that a key part of its pitch is that the messages/images you send to others quickly disappear."

    Note #1: the "disappearing" part is easy to override.

    Note #2: Note #1 is not exactly a secret.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, 15 May 2014 @ 2:17pm

    Of course, to be fair, one of the categories is whether or not the company "fights for users' privacy rights in courts." That's an important measure, but it's also a conditional one. All of the other categories can be done by any company of their own volition, but you can't fight in court if there are no opportunities to go to court to protect your users' privacy.


    A simple fix for this is to count "filing amicus briefs on behalf of users seeking privacy" in that category. Some companies (such as Google) have been known to weigh in with amicus briefs on cases they aren't directly involved in; for that matter, so has the EFF itself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2014 @ 3:03pm

    Would give Snapchat a pass, for now. They are the relatively new/little guys. May just take them time to catch up. Though their claims are misleading.

    Dropbox could be the wolf in sheep's clothing.

    for the rest of them with no star for [6].....

    Be 2014, and not "Publicly oppose mass surveillance". Damn

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2014 @ 3:44pm

    Snapchat the "private messaging" platform is doing WORSE than Facebook?! Now that's quite an achievement.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 16 May 2014 @ 1:43am

    So I gather that this table is based on ONLY US Governmental requests and not on other civil (and criminal) requests then.

    Otherwise How the bleeding hell did Microsoft recieve a gold star on "Requires a warrant for content".

    Oh I get it.. they never asked "Requires a warrant for content IT THINKS it owns itself"

    Maybe instead of just targeting Governmental kowtowing next time the EFF should target ALL privacy kowtowing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bob, 16 May 2014 @ 9:00am

    Pay off the EFF, Mr. Snapchat

    That's what Google does. They donate millions to the EFF and -- what do you know-- the EFF gives them a good report. Do they disclose this connection? Puh-leeze.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 16 May 2014 @ 9:20am

      Re: Pay off the EFF, Mr. Snapchat

      You're simply wrong. The EFF has a history of being very critical of Google when it comes to serious things, so why would they go easy on Google with this relatively minor one? Google is not one of their major donors as near as I can tell, but they might be. Regardless, it doesn't stop the EFF from calling Google on their bullshit.

      (Are you confusing the court-ordered one-time $1 million dollar payment to EFF with a "donation"?)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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