eBay, and Verizon have been awarded the top titles of "Most Trusted Companies for Privacy" by the Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe. According to a recent survey, these companies were shown to offer clear privacy statements, customer-friendly notices, great access to information, solid cookie management and sound data sharing practices. While the companies may excel on paper, it's hard to believe these are the top privacy-related companies based on public sentiment alone. It appears that the Ponemon Institute's expert panel and the 6,486 US consumers surveyed have lost their long term memories.In a surprise announcement,
recently announced plans to sell the majority of Skype, it was under eBay that the internet telephony company admitted to a privacy breach by its Chinese partner TOM Online. Not only was the company discovered to be filtering out and saving politically charged messages containing words like "Dalai Lama" and "Tibet", but a security breech allowed others to gain access to those messages on TOM's servers. A Citizen Lab report entitled Breaching Trust went so far as to accuse TOM Online of complying to government surveillance. While some of these actions may be considered necessary to offer services in a foreign country, US privacy advocates are adamant against all those who comply with the "Great Firewall of China".When it comes to privacy, eBay has had its fair share of controversies. Despite the fact that it
While Verizon was one of the first companies brave enough to stand up against the RIAA's file sharing crackdowns, in recent years the company has come under fire for its own privacy offenses. In early 2009, the company was ordered by the FCC to stop its aggressive marketing practices. When customers were porting from phone to cable services Verizon was illegally using proprietary client information in its last chance to retain fleeing customers. Meanwhile, in March the company was widely criticized in the blogosphere for its efforts to share customer info with affiliates through an overly complicated 45 day opt-out campaign. The information to be shared with affiliates included services purchased (including call records), billing info and location info.
Although eBay and Verizon do have their merits as service providers, they hardly deserve to receive today's accolades. It looks as if these announcements are more about rewarding privacy policies rather than practices.
Photo Credit: Rob Pongsajapan