Online privacy is probably the hottest topic in tech right now–and that’s not going to change any time soon. Tech giants including Facebook and Google are increasingly under scrutiny from regulators and privacy campaigners over how they use our private data. While large political blocs, like the European Union, have passed comprehensive privacy laws, in the United States, such laws can vary greatly based on which state you live in.
That’s why Comparitech, a reviews and comparison site, has released the results of its latest study into how online privacy laws in the 50 U.S. states compare. They ranked each state based on twenty metrics including everything from laws protecting the information of young people to laws regarding e-reader privacy.
The state that fared the best–that is, offers the highest degrees of online privacy protections enshrined in law–is California, coming in with a score of 75%. That 75% rating is leagues higher than the second-best state, Delaware, at 55%. As for why California ranked so highly, Comparitech said:
California has enacted many laws for specific privacy issues that other states ignore. What’s more, the state has also created what the ACLU called the most comprehensive digital privacy law in the nation. California is the only state to mention an inalienable right to privacy in its state constitution. It’s also the only state to enact a law that specifically protects data gathered from the internet-of-things.
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act prevents any law enforcement or investigative entity from forcing a company to give up electronic data or communications without a warrant. This includes cloud data, metadata, emails, text messages, location data and device searches. Although other states have similar laws protecting some of these forms of data, California has so far been the only state to protect it all.
The state that ranked the worst was Wyoming, which only garnered a 5% rating. As for why, Comparitech says “While not all states have shield laws to protect journalists from exposing their sources, Wyoming is the only state that doesn’t even have a court precedent for doing so. Companies are not required to dispose of users’ personal data after a set period of time, and employers are not barred from forcing employees to hand over passwords to social media accounts.”
Overall, the top 5 states that have the best online privacy protections (state/rank) are:
- California – 75%
- Delaware – 55%
- Utah – 45%
- Illinois – 40%
- Arkansas – 35%
And the top 5 sates that have the worst online privacy protections (state/rank):
- Wyoming – 5%
- Mississippi – 10%
- Idaho – 10%
- Pennsylvania – 10%
- Iowa – 10%
You can check out how every state ranks on Comparitech’s charts in their blog post.