Online Privacy Straight Talk

The EFF, Electronic Frontier Foundation, dedicates itself to the sticky business of the expanding niches and implications of what rapid growth into new territories does, can, and may mean for online, digital, electronic communications and systems.  It is a big and heady undertaking.  I respect the Foundation.  If after reading this piece and their report, you know more than you did before, consider supporting them with a donation.
The report is:

Who Has Your Back?  Protecting you Data from Government Requests

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Fourth Annual Report on
Online Service Providers’ Privacy and Transparency Practices
Regarding Government Access to User Data

by Nate Cardozo, Cindy Cohn, Parker Higgins, Kurt Opsahl, and Rainey Reitman

Recent Vulnerabilities

No matter whether you are a research scientist, a lifestyle blogger, or a small business owner, the security of your data is questionable, at best.  The U.S. Government is suing PRC Army  (aka Chinese) hackers over their spying via electronic breaches into U.S. government and major corporate systems.  Heartbleed vulnerabilities are reported to have impacted over half of the internet, Cisco switching equipment was intimately involved with the vulnerability of Heartbleed so it is more than a bit of interesting that Cisco Systems CEO John Chambers asked President Obama to intercede with the NSA per the installation of spying software and equipment in shipments of Cisco products, and it was Snowden who leaked the information and clued us all in about the ubiquity of NSA tendrils into every aspect of the lives of Americans.


So while the big shots can punch it out at the level of countries and corporations, what can regular folks do to show they have shown reasonable fiduciary responsibility in the data handling they have to do to run their small businesses and professional networking?

This Is Not About Platforms, Your Data, and Advertising

While this is not legal advice, “Dammit Jim, I’m an anthropologist not an attorney!” I do think it behooves us to know the security and sharing practices of the social media and digital information platforms and providers we use when it comes to how readily they will hand our data over the government.

Do keep in mind that this is only about what they share with the government and not what the companies themselves may do with your data.

What the Report Actually Examines

The EFF report looks at six practices of major corporations in handling user data:

  • Require a warrant for content of communications
  • Tell users about government data requests
  • Publish transparency reports
  • Publish law enforcement guidelines
  • Fight for users’ privacy rights in courts
  • Publicly oppose mass surveillance

The report dishes specifics on tech companies and telecoms and found  that “Snapchat, AT&T, and Comcast Lag Behind Others in Industry.”

The report is quite detailed, but charts and summaries allow for scanning of the major findings.

You can download a pdf of the full report.


  1. It’s horrifying that the Heartbleed virus impacted more than half the internet. WOW! We all definitely need to take more care. Thanks for all this great information.
    Lois Alter Mark recently posted…selvera: a personal approach to losing weightMy Profile

  2. They prey on us because we don’t understand how to really protect ourselves–or the risks we really face.
    Carol Cassara recently posted…“Bad boys, bad boys…”My Profile

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