NSA News Drives Consumers To Seek More Privacy Protection

If nothing else, news about the National Security Agency's extensive surveillance activities seems to have left some consumers more determined than before to protect their privacy.

Consider, privacy company Abine says that downloads of its anti-tracking software spiked by 54% week-over-week, for the seven days ending last Friday. That's not all: Search engine Duck Duck Go also saw use surge by 55% week-over-week. Duck Duck Go, unlike Google, Bing and Yahoo, doesn't keep logs tying users' IP addresses to their search queries.

The uptick for both companies clearly indicates that more consumers are at least trying to keep their information away from outside parties. Whether that will actually stop government surveillance is another question. To date, we haven't heard any reports that the NSA ever sought information about users from ad networks. But that doesn't mean the government couldn't seek such information one day.

Google, meanwhile, seems to be trying to win over civil libertarians by challenging the NSA in court. This week, Google filed a motion asking the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow the company to disclose more precise information about requests for user data.

“Google's reputation and business has been harmed by the false or misleading reports in the media, and Google's users are concerned by the allegations,” the company argues. “Google must respond to such claims with more than generalities.”

The company is seeking a ruling allowing it to publish the total number of FISA requests it receives, and the total number of users or accounts covered by those requests.

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