The Ponemon Institute has conducted its annual privacy survey for the past seven years. It asks U.S. consumers to name and rate organizations that “they believe are most committed to protecting the privacy of their personal information.”
According to the survey’s respondents, Apple was “unranked” in 2012, a large drop from the number 14 position it held in 2011 (the survey only ranks the top 20 respondents each year, but lists companies that made the top 20 in previous years). Other unranked companies joining Apple are Google, Best Buy, Facebook, Yahoo, Dell, and AOL.
Although tech companies are well represented in the top 20, other less obvious firms also made the list, including financial and healthcare companies.
After being unranked in the Ponemon Institute study from its inception in 2006 to 2008, Apple cracked the top 10 in 2009, reaching the number 8 spot. The Cupertino company then fell to 12th in 2010 and 14th in 2011.
Apple has experienced several highly-publicized privacy-related issues in the past two years that may have contributed to its fall in the rankings. Notable examples include the early 2011 iPhone tracking controversy, the late 2012 UDID breach, and a number of privacy breaches caused by approved App Store apps.
In response, Apple moved quickly to address most privacy issues. The company introduced a UDID replacement as part of iOS 6 and began to ban apps from the App Store that still relied on them. It also modified iOS to prevent iPhone tracking, which the company claimed was unintentional. Finally, CEO Tim Cook personally “hauled” one app developer into his office and berated him for his app’s privacy issues.
Regardless, the survey shows that Apple has fallen out of the upper echelon of companies that Americans trust most with their privacy. Considering the distrust that many feel toward large corporations, and Apple’s continued reach into nearly all areas of a digitally-connected life, it’s unknown if the company will ever be able to regain a top spot.
For reference, below are the top 20 most trusted companies in 2012, according to the survey (due to ties, the list actually contains 22 companies):
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