A snapshot of how tech companies protect user privacy from the Electronic Frontier Foundation's 2013 "Who's Got Your Back?" report.
It seemed as if every large tech company in Silicon Valley was part of the U.S. surveillance program known as PRISM. At least, all of them except San Francisco-based Twitter.
Twitter was one of the few tech companies that received all six stars
for guarding user privacy, according to the Electric Frontier Foundation. Twitter has fought in court for user rights and fought government requests for information. Only one other tech company Sonic.net, received all six stars.
“We value the reputation we have for defending and respecting the user’s voice,” Alexander Macgillivray, Twitter's chief lawyer, told the
New York Times last year. “We think it’s important to our company and the way users think about whether to use Twitter, as compared to other services.”
It's not clear why Twitter's not on the PRISM list and Twitter didn't respond to requests for a comment. Eight companies
were supposedly giving the National Security Agency access to user data as part of PRISM: AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk, Skype, and Yahoo, Quartz reported. (Many deny participation
in the program.) From the story:
Dropbox was apparently described in an NSA presentation as “coming soon.” Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have all denied flatly that they allowed the government direct access to their servers or even heard of PRISM.
One of the reasons it might not be on the list is that a lot of its information is basically public. Twitter users don't have that much privacy data to mine as Facebook or Google. Although it does comply with government requests 57 percent of the time, the numbers are fairly low with only 1,009 requests in the last six months of 2012. Google had 21,389 requests in that same time frame and provided information 66 percent of the time.
It also couldn't have come at a better time, since Twitter is preparing
its initial public offering. Spreading the news that it wasn't part of a government surveillance project on its citizens could only help its IPO.