If you’re bothered by the news that the NSA is collecting Americans’ personal information, it’s time to take action.
First, take on the law. We’re proud to be a business supporter of Mozilla’s Call.StopWatching.Us campaign, which makes it easy to call your representative and sign on to a letter to Congress. We joined a growing list of privacy-minded companies, organizations, and individuals “demand[ing] real answers and an end to the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance programs.” Please help spread the word!
Second, start using privacy tools. Mozilla is featuring a collection of privacy add-ons for Firefox users, and our DoNotTrackMe (DNTMe) is among the bunch. Chances are you’re a DNTMe user if you’re reading our blog, but you may not have known about all the other great privacy tools from companies like DuckDuckGo (a private search engine), FoxyProxy (a VPN and proxy service), Web of Trust (a website review and recommendation tool), and others. Follow the collection at the Mozilla add-ons store for updates, and tell your friends who use Firefox! (And if you’re not a Firefox user, we highly recommend you make the switch.)
The uproar over the PRISM program has cast a negative light on the NSA and participating companies like Google and Apple, but it’s resulted in significant growth for online privacy companies like us. It shows that people are looking for solutions, and we’re happy to help. Although no single solution exists to stop NSA surveillance, greater privacy means reducing the amount of data that private companies collect about individuals, because those companies are legally compelled to provide it to agencies like the NSA.
During the week of June 10, the week following Edward Snowden’s revelation of the existence of the NSA PRISM program, we experienced a 54 percent increase in week-over-week installs of DoNotTrackMe. Installs grew stronger every day of the week, reaching a 98 percent increase on Friday, June 14, over the previous Friday. During a similar time period, DuckDuckGo saw a strong increase in use of its privacy-friendly search engine of 55 percent. Visitors can view DuckDuckGo’s continued growth in near real-time at duckduckgo.com/traffic.html. FoxyProxy saw a 48% increase in bandwidth used by global subscribers of its Virtual Private Network (VPN) service after the NSA story broke.
The NSA news was disheartening, but it’s opened many people’s eyes to the fact that it only takes one person to accidentally or intentionally release another’s personal data to the world with potentially devastating impact. Now’s the time to stand up.
We, DuckDuckGo, FoxyProxy, and a few of our peers are starting a not-yet-named initiative to raise awareness of online privacy issues among the public, industry leaders, government officials, and policy makers. We’re glad to be working closely to help shine a light on these issues and give people easy-to-use tools to better protect their privacy. We’re just getting started, but we think consumers need a group that’s 100% on their side to fight for these issues. We’re setting out to prove that there are businesses who truly care about privacy. Let us know what you’d like to see us take on!