Two days ago, the research firm Ponemon released the results of the 2012 iteration of their annual survey concerning the trustworthiness of companies in the eyes of the public. The surprise is the fact that Google and Apple didn't figure in the top 20 most trusted companies.
During the 7 years in which this survey was conducted, Apple managed to enter only since 2009 with an average rank of 11,3. Google, on the other hand managed to enter the top 20 since 2007 in the 10 place, but slowly losing places among the years putting Google with a rank average of 13.
By comparison, Microsoft managed to enter the top this year for the first time in 7 years (on the 17 place). Worth mentioning is the fact that Facebook was not able to get on the top since 2009 (big shock there).
Google's overall trust issues are distributed among their products, ranging from Google's Street View and Satellite Imagery, to Google Search. The giant has also been a long time under fire for not removing links from Search, leading to government pressure and league actions against them. One of the reactions to these requests was Google creating the Transparency Report web page, where all of the court orders and other legal acts asking them to censor query results would be logged and the data made available to the public.
Google had problems in the US and Europe with regards to the Street View imaging teams collecting Wi-Fi data from public hotspots, among which were thousands of emails and other personal data that the search giant said it was stored due to a human error.
Google also was criticized by the world in 2012 when it changed it's privacy policies making it possible to share user information among its services. The company's reason for this move was the step it wanted to take in unifying it's services. Some of those steps could be seen being applied in the past weeks, when a window would appear while browsing Youtube asking you if you would like to merge your Youtube username with your Google+ account.
Apple's fall from the top 20 could be due to the iPhone Carrier IQ news and the issues with UDID's (Unique Device Identifier). Another privacy line crossed by Apple was surfaced by independent researchers during the last year when they have found that Apple stored GPS data even though the user explicitly selected for the smart phone to not collect location information.
As I'm sure you are curious by now, the top 10 companies that people trust most in 2012 are:
- American Express
- US Postal Service
- Procter & Gamble
According to the researchers only 35 percent of respondents believe they have control over their personal information. This number has been in decline among the 7 years in which this study was carried out. Other 32 percent admit, not even bother reading the privacy policies that all kinds of services come with, on the basis that these policies are too long or the way they are written (as the document puts it "too much legalese").The main concern regarding privacy was identity with 61 percent.
The research was done through the firm's website, in the last 15 weeks of 2012. The survey was based on 6704 people and it was conducted throughout the US.