No, that “Most Trusted Company for Privacy Award” does not compute

EFF Privacy Badger beta

I think most people read about the “Most Trusted Internet Company for Privacy Award” via a blog post from the Mozilla Foundation, publisher of the Firefox Web browser. The title of the blog post is “Mozilla Recognized as Most Trusted Internet Company for Privacy.”

It’s important to note that the keyword term here is “Internet Company,” because the study is published as the “Most Trusted Company for Privacy Award.” The company that took home the overall honor is American Express. Mozilla ranked 20 overall, but ranked at the top of the Internet & Social Media subgroup.

The thing that caught my attention as I read the report (pdf), is that Verizon and Microsoft also made the Top 20. Verizon was actually number 1 in the Communications subgroup. I think that’s interesting because a key finding of the study revealed that “the number one privacy-related concern expressed by 61 percent of respondents is identity, closely followed by an increase in government surveillance (56 percent).”

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How can people be very concerned about government surveillance, and still trust a company like Microsoft? What are all those backdoors in their products for? And if people are concerned about government surveillance, what about surveillance by private organizations? Has anybody looked into backdoors in Verizon’s Internet routers?

I think the research participants were (are) clueless and I’m willing to bet that readers of this blog or any other tech-related blog will not consider Verizon and Microsoft as trustworthy.

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The institute did acknowledge in the report that:

… the ratings may not reflect at all the actual privacy practices of the company and its efforts to protect the personal information of its customers and employees. Further, what a company does in the area of privacy and data protection can be invisible to the consumer until he or she experiences a problem and seeks redress or has a question about the organization’s privacy and data protection practices that needs to be answered.

Ponemon Institute LLC is an independent research institute based in Traverse City, Michigan USA. The study is an annual tradition.

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