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Don't trust these tech companies with your private data, warns EFF report

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A new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has listed a number of top technology companies as the least trustworthy, raising fears that personal data and information may be compromised. The report listed Amazon.com, Snapchat and AT&T as the worst in the tech industry on handling government data requests.

The nonprofit privacy advocacy organization, in its fourth installment of "Who Has Your Back" report, ranks companies on a number of issues, including privacy and online security in their transparency reports.

And it's not good news for AT&T, Snapchat and Amazon.com, who languish far behind other tech companies in their ability to maintain security for their users. Topping the list were Apple, Dropbox, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo, who all earned the highest six star rating in each category, based on the report [pdf].

Amazon.com and AT&T were given two stars, and Snapchat garnered only one star.

The report looked at the top 26 technology companies and used a litany of criteria in the report, with Snapchat being the most worrisome of all online companies.

"This is particularly troubling because Snapchat collects extremely sensitive user data, including potentially compromising photographs of users. Given the large number of users and non users whose photos end up on Snapchat, Snapchat should publicly commit to requiring a warrant before turning over the content of its users' communications to law enforcement," said the 73-page analysis.

Snapchat countered by saying it uses a number of security measures on a regular basis to ensure its users are protected.

Privacy concerns and online security have come to the forefront of technology and Internet discussions lately, especially after the leaks that revealed massive spying of American citizens by the National Security Agency (NSA) and earlier reports about the Heartbleed Bug, which may have stolen millions of users' information, including potentially bank account information and passwords.

The EFF, however, despite the negative reporting on those three tech giants, does maintain a somewhat positive outlook for online security in the near future.

"We saw a remarkable improvement in the areas we've been tracking," said Cindy Cohn, legal director at the EFF.

Much of the success in gaining traction in the general public over privacy and security issues is the result of Edward Snowden's leaking of information pertaining to the NSA's spying project, says the EFF, who believe that the future will become more transparent and easier to manage as companies take online security seriously.

"Too often, technology companies are the weak link, providing the government with a honeypot of rich data," the EFF's report said.

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