The annual Ranking Digital Rights survey, funded by the Open Technology Institute, a think tank focused on online and technological issues, found that companies like Apple, Google and Facebook still score much better on privacy and free expression issues than, for instance, China’s Baidu and Russia’s Yandex.
South Korean companies also scored much higher than those in China and Russia, where strict laws heavily monitor and censor Internet use. The study — as noted by Vocativ —looks at 10 of the biggest Internet companies around the world, most of which use both a messaging or email system and a search or social network system. American companies include Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, Twitter, and Yahoo from the U.S. Other companies in the study are China’s Google-like Baidu and Tencent, Russia’s Mail.Ru and Yandex, South Korea’s Kakao and Samsung, largely for its creation of phones that run the Android operating system.
The 2017 Index measures if and how companies disclose their commitments, policies, and practices that affect users’ freedom of expression and privacy across 35 indicators in three main categories: Governance, Freedom of Expression, and Privacy. Each category contains indicators measuring company disclosure for that category; each indicator is comprised of a series of elements that measure company disclosure for that indicator.
Apple ranked seventh among the 12 Internet and mobile ecosystem companies evaluated with a score of 35 (out o 100). A major reason for this relatively low score was poor disclosure about the company’s commitments and policies affecting users’ freedom of expression, according to the Open Technology Institute. Next to its peers, Apple also offered little disclosure about how it has institutionalized commitments to users’ rights through corporate governance, oversight, and accountability mechanisms, the organization adds.
Google and Microsoftwere the only companies in the entire Index to score more than 60% overall. Ranking Digital Rights is a non-profit research initiative housed at New America’s Open Technology Institute.