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Apple nets perfect score in privacy group's consumer data protection assessment

Digital rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation on Wednesday gave Apple a perfect rating in its annual "Who has your back?" report, which rates tech companies on their efforts to secure consumer data against government snooping.

Apple was one of nine technology and Internet services firms to rate five out of five stars under the EFF's criteria for assessment regarding government data requests.

The group evaluated a number of big industry names to determine whether they: follow industry-accepted best practices, tell users about government data demands, disclose policies on data retention, disclose government content removal requests, oppose backdoors. Along with Apple, Adobe, Credo Mobile, Dropbox, Sonic, Wikimedia, WordPress, Wickr and Yahoo received all available stars.

The results are a repeat performance for Apple, which achieved a perfect score in 2014. Prior to last year, however, the company only managed one star in three consecutive assessments.

Apple fields a number of encryption tools that prevent prying eyes — government or otherwise — from accessing personal customer data. The lockout mechanism in iOS 8, for example, is so secure that Apple itself is technically incapable of decrypting it.

Apple is also part of an ongoing public campaign against over-surveillance and in May signed a letter urging President Barack Obama reject incoming proposals that seek to require software backdoors be installed for use by law enforcement agencies.

At least some of Apple's recent success in consumer privacy can be contributed to CEO Tim Cook, who has been an outspoken proponent of keeping personal data in the hands of customers, not the government. Apple's does not make personal data available to without proper warrantopen letter to customers.

Cook delivered one his most impassioned speeches on the matter this month in a teleconferenced call to an event hosted by the Electronic Privacy Information Center's Champions of Freedom, at which he was honored for works as a corporate leader. Aside from touting Apple's own data security policies, the Apple chief called out companies that offer free services with the proviso that personal information can be commoditized, most often for targeted Web advertising.

Earlier on Wednesday, former NSA contractor Edward Snowden went on record as saying he believes Apple will keep its promises to consumers, if for nothing else than a holding a commercial edge over rivals that monetize customer data.