Popular messaging platform WhatsApp and US mobile carrier AT&T are ranked poorly on a list of major tech companies that were analysed for their pro-active stance to protect user data.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit organisation focused on digital rights, released its latest annual "Who Has Your Back?" scorecard, where both AT&T and WhatsApp received just a single star each out of five.

On the scorecard, WhatsApp's sole scoring was for its pro-user public policy that opposes backdoors, while AT&T got its single star for its industry accepted best practices.

Both the companies failed on telling users about government data demands, and disclosing policies on data retention. Meanwhile, no data is available about their disclosure of government content removal requests.

AT&T's rival Verizon also lagged behind with a two-star rating.

Adobe, Apple, CREDO, Dropbox, Sonic, Wickr, Wikimedia, Wordpress.com and Yahoo received all five stars on the scorecard.

"These nine companies show that it is practical for major technology companies to adopt best practices around transparency and stand by their users when the government comes knocking," the report says.

It also notes that the technology industry stands united against government-mandated backdoors, as consumers increasingly look to them for stringent policies to protect data, while the US government has done little to prevent indiscriminate surveillance headed by the National Security Agency.

"Technology companies are in a position to know about and resist overbroad government requests, so we need to do everything within our power to encourage them to speak out and fight back," the report said.

"In handing our data to these companies, we've handed them a huge responsibility to do what they can to stand up for privacy."

Who has your back?
Electronic Frontier Foundation