In June, The Electronic Frontier Foundation released its Who Has Your Back? 2015: Protecting Your Data From Government Requests report. The report analyzes technology companies and their information disclosure and collection policies as well as highlighting best practices. The companies then receive a star for each area where they scored highly. The report offers ratings based on metrics of best practices for security, publicly opposing back doors, disclosing government data demands, content removal requests, and making data retention policies public.
In 2013, A New York District Attorney’s office served warrants on Facebook seeking information on various Facebook users, who were later indicted for various crimes including fraud. Facebook resisted the attempts by the government arguing that honoring such requests would set a precedent thereby jeopardizing the privacy of Facebook users. Major tech companies including Google and Microsoft backed Facebook’s claim. Facebook honored the requests in 2014 after a court threw out its claims but went on to appeal the ruling.
In a ruling likely to set a precedent as feared, a Court has ruled the social networking site cannot appeal against search warrants and that only the individual targets can challenge these warrants. This means Facebook has to honor the warrants for user data once issued. The initial warrant sought to apply to 381 users’ photos, private messages and other account information. Facebook is however considering appealing the decision.
In the report, Facebook was one of the highest ranked companies in terms of keeping user information private and from the government. In line with its requirements, Facebook requires a warrant before turning over user content but which has to abide by its law enforcement guide and transparency report.