For the fourth year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released their annual report that ranks how major technology organizations protect their customer’s data from government requests. Of the 26 organizations that were measured, Microsoft was one of the eight that scored a perfect rating, fulfilling all requirements in the six categories that EFF measures. This was a jump from the 4/6 received last year, and the 1/5 rankings in both 2011 and 2012.
What helped improve Microsoft’s rating this year? Microsoft previously missed the mark on informing users about government data demands. Now users are given prior notice when data is sought by a law enforcement or government entity (1 star). Notice is only withheld in emergencies and where prohibited by law. Outside of those circumstances, Microsoft requires a court order warrant before considering releasing a customer’s content data (1 star).
One of the most important topics surrounding data is transparency. Holding back on key statistics and information (when not mandatory) tends to be viewed as a major red flag for organizations. Microsoft publishes a transparency report and additional reports that provide information on the data that various government organizations request (1 star).
One of the published reports is a law enforcement guide (1 star). Backing up the commitment to keeping information private, Microsoft also takes action by fighting for privacy rights in court (1 star). Just this past April, Microsoft “…publicly challenged a government demand for user data in In the Matter of a Warrant to Search a Certain E-Mail Account Controlled and Maintained by Microsoft Corporation…” Continuing the fight, Microsoft joined the Reform Government Surveillance Coalition (1 star), which states that “governments should limit surveillance to specific, known users for lawful purposes, and should not undertake bulk data collection of Internet communications.”