Abine teams up with Mozilla and more to take a stand against NSA

stand against nsaIf 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!

stand against nsa

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.)  

stand against nsa

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 on their website.  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!




41 comments shared on this article:

  • Daniel scimone says:

    strongest democratize in the world…….
    maybe last century!

    • Ross D. says:

      Of course, this is nothing new as stated in the following quote: “A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a
      prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will
      forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own
      governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”
      – James Madison letter to W. T. Barry, August 4, 1822

  • Liz says:

    It’s not just the spying and records collecting .. companies have been selling/renting/sharing personal information for ages. Those companies, in turn, do the same. We need to STOP the practices of using one’s telephone number as a source of ID (and it’s not JUST an ID .. it’s sold). I know Albine has a masked phone program but (alas) it’s a bit expensive for many people. Maybe it can be made more affordable down the road …

    The other scary practice are the auto devices touted by a couple of insurance companies to provide so-called better rates based on driving history. I know that one company does – in fact – track you despite their claims to the contrary. Why else would they comment about driving down a certain road duirng “peak” driving times ?

  • Greg says:

    I just called two Senators, & it feel like we can do something!

    • Neeta Womac says:

      This NSA stuff reminds me of the KGB of Russia during Communist rule. With our own stuff being hacked by others, the data is not safe either

      Personally, I just cancelled my cell phone order with Verizon. I work at home, so I do not need a cell phone. I do not drive, so I do not need car insurance that they keep trying to sell me. I do not have a car, nor do I intend to get one. I guess they will just have to deal with how many times I order pizza and talk to my church group.

      • Ron D Lite says:

        Let me know if you need a good pizza recipe in case you want to scratch the pizza deliveries off the list

  • am says:

    Online Privacy. Now there are two words that never belong together.

  • Léa Silhol says:

    R: to this : (And if you’re not a Firefox user, we highly recommend you make the switch.) Right so, and Firefox is, imh(user)o the best browser 4 MAc. BUT, to be completely honest, or/and up to these standards, Mozilla should end up the geolocation api that so many users are unaware of. It’s quite scandalous to have to go to : about:config and geo.enabled to disable this Privacy-Breacher. The same aplies to Flash-Cookies. To be completely on the fair side of privacy, they should give their users easier access through the confif fav board. Or the “award”, here, is only half deserved.

  • L Russell Linderman says:

    “Amendment IV

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    Speak Up, Take Action Now while you still can!! Don’t just sit and complain about it. There should be thousands of posts here. Put your real name up, let them track you and know who we are. Americans!! The risks that others have taken before us to uphold these principles is evident.

    Today is our generations challenge. Peaceful Civil Disobedience is the only thing that can prevail and win this attack on our country from with in. I am not a Democrat, I am not a Republican. I am an American.

  • Noel Lawrence says:

    Does this mean your company supports terrorism? If you think monitoring the ether is something new then I would refer you to the excellent book “The Defence of the Realm”, the authorized history of MI5 by Professor Christopher Andrew. Comment is made from MI5 records, of GCHQ, the listening arm of the secret service, monitoring a conversation in 1956 between Krushev and his limosine driver from the vehicle’s internal speaker phone system.
    I really like your program because I don’t like people snooping on me but when it comes to National Security, I’ll do my part to help combat it, not encourage or support it.

    • Rob says:

      This not about combating and “not encourag(ing) or support(ing) [National Security"]. In fact I think there argument is the opposite. But this is just an argument as a means to an end.

      All of this, in the end, is about power and money. When all is settled proponents of the programme will either win outright and continue with it, or retreat (read: a strategic redeployment rearward) and simply privatise PRISM. A position that allows any official to truthfully assert that “the government” does not engage in data mining while meeting the needs of (and fulfilling promises to) campaign contributors and government contractors. The NSA will still have access to the information.

      Nothing happens If no one stands to profit. One way or another the facilities, maintenance and equipment contracts, security and even the cafeteria services will all be accommodated.

      What the end user’s concern should be is how to navigate this new paradigm while protecting ourselves from the inevitable “misuse” of our information.

    • Mark says:

      Does this mean your company supports terrorism? Are you kidding me? Do you really think that professional criminals and terrorists are not using proxy severs to hide their identity and using high security encryption on all their communications. The people that the governments are monitoring are you and I not terrorists and criminals!

  • D EZ says:

    The Abzilla FireDuck Privacy Federation…

    Just a suggestion… but I am glad you guys are all working together on this, I switched over to duckduckgo a few weeks ago before the nsa reveal and love the DNT+ software its about time people became more aware and you guys all teaming up would be a great way of getting people informed. Keep up the amazing work!

    • Ruckus E. says:

      In January I started to pay $275 annually for Cryptohippie which masks my IP address and it shows me coming out of Europe.

  • Ivo says:

    Genius ist Grenzenlos. So unsere Unzufriedenheit…bei aller fröhlichen,schelmischen, witzig’schmerZlichen Heiterkeit. Ich will sagen, dass das Gefühl der totalen Niederlage (unser aller„normal“Sterblichen Alltagsmenschen)…in strahlender überschwänglicher Sicherheit eines letztendlichen Sieges schwelgt ,und die gefallenen Helden dem Stolz immer auf der falschen Seite gewesen zu sein … Ausdruck verleihen werden : Die, wo das Brot nicht mit Butter bestrichen ist.
    Denn heute… wo und wie auch immer wir leben…leben wir im “Post“ … im post „human“.
    Im Bewusstsein , dass wir jetzt..in einem deformierten und neuen Feudalismus leben,wo die Mächtigen in ihren Festungen fest_eingeschlossen sind, und “die(wir)anderen“ aufgeteilt in ihren(unseren)Banden … sich (uns) unter’einender ‘töten’ … bleibt dem weisen Mann nur mehr die Zelle der Meditation und der Jubel der gesamten Umgebung (…) die auch unserer Fantasie begierige sympathische Meldungen endlos zu’zwinkert,
    die, die uns zur täglichen Schöpfung treiben.
    Das Spiel der Paradoxien hat die Gipfel der höchsten Türme erreicht,
    wo triumphierend das Banner der Idiotie im Winde wedelt – was willst du mehr vom Leben.

  • Ruckus E. says:

    Run Cryptohippie and Dont Track Me together and iPhone VPN apps too!

  • F.W. Stockington says:

    You can write or call your senators and congressmen until the cows come home, if it makes you feel better. But if you think it’s going to result in any less erosion of either your privacy or your liberty, you’re part of the problem, not part of the solution. Don’t you get it? The reason this kind of stomping on personal freedom is happening is BECAUSE of the political system in the first place. How do you think an organization like the NSA came into being…by spontaneous creation? It was the politicians who created the problem in the first place.

    This has been going on for a long time. The fact that it has come to light now is at most an inconvenience for our political masters. Democans and Republicrats…it makes little difference. They’re in it for themselves, and the ones who are the best at pretending otherwise are the biggest winners. A bunch of opportunistic politicians will exploit the public hysteria and create some political capital for themselves by passing yet another law, which will do more harm than good. Dont’ you get it? Every time you demand a new law, you’re only limiting your freedom even more.

    Study history. Get some perspective. If you want things to change, you have to stop doing the same thing over and over. You can’t solve a problem by creating more of it. Alternatively, just keep writing to the clowns in Washington. You’ll feel like you’re actually accomplishing something, and you’ll be right. It just won’t be what you think; you’ll be contributing to the accelerated destruction of your ever-decreasing personal freedom.

    • Paul says:

      Spot on, F.W.!! Keep on voting for the lesser of two evils and keep watching your personal liberties continue to be eroded. Wake up, folks – the people in Washington are not your friends.

    • uhuh says:

      i wholeheartedly agree!! this thing is so deep and far-reaching. it’s been in the works for generations!! we are irrelevant.

      no problem can be solved by the same consciousness that created it…einstein

      i say stop voting, altogether!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    RE: F.W. Stockington

    - It’s cynicism like this that leads others to believe they are powerless, when in actuality, it’s your own perpetuation of apathy hindering progress.

    If you care enough to read and comment on these sorts of issue’s, which you obviously do), perhaps there’s a better approach than pissing in your allies coffee – if we’re on the same side, act like it.

    • Paul says:

      Cynicism is the first step towards defining a route out of the wilderness. As long as you believe the “party line”, you are giving up your power. Cynicism does not inevitably lead to powerlessness. Once you see the reality of what is happening, by taking the cynical view, you can then take action. Unfortunately, cynics are dismissed by 99% of the population as unworthy of consideration. That is by design – the ruling elite wants cynics to be considered worthless – they brook no challenges to their power, which is what cynics do. The same goes for anarchists – they are a direct threat to the powerful.

  • Hector says:

    We are loosing our freedoms step by step… We have to be strong together and fight the humanity control from devil dictators.

    Wake up! Please…

  • Love Now says:

    years ago one listening in on others, spying on them ‘peeping’, was seen as a pervert. If some poor bored nimrod was busted they would be labelled deviant, sexual deviant, pervert; point being a person was outcast humiliated shamed and in need of some therapeutic intervention. worse case i’ve heard beaten to death.
    I know its somewhat different; massive scale; full on peeping like the peeper at the local university that has no curtains. Shame on all involved. Get a real job.
    Honestly can you imagine anything more mind numbing, boring personality disintegration, this what humans are doing? wathing the monitoring monitors monitor store what has to be an unbelievably enormous amount off data. somewhere down the heaps of metal and wires store all the crap then run some programs developed by some grad student in the last possible moments of the time their bodies could take before melting down all that work for this. and the software will be replace next semester or week made irrelevant because blahblahblaaeai[ijaij drivvle. put that much in and use any and every imaginable filter configurations. can you imagine what these ‘humourless worker ants’ will discover about Americans?? we’re all the same or we’re all completely different and every combo in between. perhaps something big some phenomenon that MUST be researched to its finest pieces, by machines yet to be invented, ‘they’re just around the bend’ “were on the verge of a major discovery never before seen heard thought of breaking through all the pointless data to find that basically people just don’t give a shit, want to get by with out shoving, have fun then take it easy.

    Idiots full of sound and fury signifying nothing

  • Sean says:

    I am far more concerned about companies tracking my business then I am about the government. Which is why I love Abine and others like it.

    The government knows EVERYTHING about you. They don’t need to track your phone, email or internet usage. They already know EVERYTHING about you. If they were up to no good, you would be toast.

    Why do we need the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP)?

    To help identify, isolate, and defeat them!

    The US Gov cares not about your porn (unless it is child porn, and then you should be killed anyway), or about your bank account, (which they already know about), or your politics (which they already know about).

    All they are collecting is metadata. Which is not an invasion of your privacy. That data does not belong to you, it belongs to he companies you choose to do business with. And if they are ordered by the government, they must comply.

    This data is used only when they have data linked to a terrorist or network, it is then accessed and used for link analysis. And unless you are or are supporting terrorism, your number will never come up.

    So sleep well tonight and know that your government has your back. Because most Americans are too stupid to realize it is for their own good.

    • Laura says:

      Now that’s Comedy! IF the Gov knew every tiny detail about every person in this country. Tell me how Anyone can run from a Arrest Warrant for Any crime for years? Or Never getting caught? There Are data collection centers in Every Sate! They are Not Regulated in Anyway! All are independent contractors! Tracking, personal e-mails(being able to Read those emails)!! Listening to phone calls & the list goes on & on & on. How about being placed on a Terrorist watch list for simply working in the campaign office of a person running for a Voter placed job? Time to take off the Rose colored glasses. Educate your self & take a 360 view of the world around you!

      • Sean says:

        Exactly!!!

        They are not really tracking you. If the NSA was so ominous, Snowden would have been found out LOL!!!

        My point is, if the Gov REALLY wanted to invade your privacy, which they don’t, they could.

        As for crime, most criminals live off the grid. And that is the onion.

    • Michael says:

      Typical government troll. Or a member of the majority. Or both.

  • tony says:

    Abine are hypocrites. You install their DNTMe plugin and guess what? They are tracking you! They collect statistics about all websites you visit and how many other trackers you blocked. They hide under collecting medals euphemism. You can even click the button in the plugin and be transfered to their website to see statistics about yourself.

    • That’s simply not true. Those user statistics, like your all-time trackers blocked, are stored locally on your computer. We can’t see or access them. That webpage about your stats simply loads them from your computer where they’re stored, not from our servers.

      DoNotTrackMe does not track any of our users’ web activity. It has no ability to collect data about what sites they visit or any other web behavior. The tool can save their personal settings and preferences, but those are stored locally on the user’s computer.

      Our software is built entirely around the principle of privacy, which is something individuals can verify themselves by using an app that monitors the requests made for their computer’s information throughout the day. Two examples of apps like these are Live HTTP Headers or WireChart, neither of which were made by us. DNTMe makes one request per day to the user’s computer for updated tracker blocking rules. It also checks for upgrades to new versions of DNTMe. Any user will be able to see those requests and what they entail.

      You can also see in our privacy policy that “We never sell your data. If we share your data, it’s only with companies we’ve hired to do work for us. They’ll never own it or be able to share it with anyone else. You retain ownership of your own data.”

      There are a few limited pieces of information we need to know to make sound decisions about the business and DNTMe:

      Information about users’ install of DNTMe: where they downloaded it, the original version they installed, the current version they have, and the month of their original install.
      Because there is a different version of DNTMe for each browser (Safari, Chrome, Firefox, IE), we know how many installs there have been for each browser.
      On a daily basis, we know how many users we have of DNTMe and whether those users are based in or outside the US.
      Lastly, we know how many visits to abine.com come from the DNTMe tool, but we do not know if any given add-on user clicked anything or other personal details.

      The only way we get paid is if our users trust us to be responsible with their personal information. If we mess that up, we risk our entire business model. Our duty is to our customers and their privacy. Period.

  • Nick Roberson says:

    I understand that spying is like a being peeper and the information that is collected should never be used or sold , traded or any the like..
    As Americans we all deserve the right to our Privacy whether it be on line, phone calls or texting or in your own house, where your privacy is suppose to be private.
    I for one care about my privacy and personal business and if I choose to share that information and when I choose to share that information and only then would others know about it and not just because some one with higher authority thought that they needed it when in fact they don’t .. My business is still my business until they start paying my bills for me and providing food and shelter for me, and until then they need to stay the hell out of my business,, All that spy on every day Americans should all be labeled as some sort of pervert and be registered as such in the state that they live and or work.
    I try my very best to mind my own business and I expect our Government to do the same..

  • John says:

    Privacy add-ons sound like a good idea on the surface, but how do we really know that they even work? Can anyone really show any proof other than the add-on itself saying it’s doing something?

    • Hey John-

      It basically comes down to code: you monitoring the requests your browser is making both with and without DNTMe installed and your ability to look at DNTMe’s source code, which we’ll share under a non-disclosure agreement. If you’re interested, email i...@abine.com.

      As a primary point, DoNotTrackMe does not track any of our users’ web activity. It has no ability to collect data about what sites they visit or any other web behavior. The tool can save their personal settings and preferences, but those are stored locally on the user’s computer.

      Our software is built entirely around the principle of privacy, which is something individuals can verify themselves by using an app that monitors the requests made for their computer’s information throughout the day. Two examples of apps like these are Live HTTP Headers or WireChart, neither of which were made by us. DNTMe makes one request per day to the user’s computer for updated tracker blocking rules. It also checks for upgrades to new versions of DNTMe. Any user will be able to see those requests and what they entail, as well as other requests for your information from advertisers and other third parties. With DNTMe, those requests are minimal or not happening at all.

  • John says:

    Thanks for the quick reply and information Sarah.

  • Jim says:

    I used Firefox along with IE9 until Firefox did a recent update and changed my search engine.

    No more Firefox!

  • John says:

    So what is Prism really about?

    It seems radical to talk in terms of “the rich opressing the poor” and yet it is hard to find a period in history when this has not been the case, the practice of slavery having prevailed in many societies throughout the ages. Now we no longer have actual slavery we have “near-slavery” where many people work for a pitiful wage, especially in Asia and Africa. But also in developed nations we have huge inequalities. So perhaps this notion of the rich opressing the poor should become more commonplace as it does reflect what has happened, and still happens in the world.

    The internet has now given people the opportunity to examine and question what is going on, and organise against it. The 98% can now see what the 2% are doing. No longer can a government murder an entire tribe in the Congo and get away with it. No longer can the rich stuff their pockets full money and wealthy corporations control elections without people noticing. Politicians and their rich friends do not like this wind of change, and so they seek to monitor and control the internet. This is what Prism is really about.

    I really appreciate what DuckDuck and DNT are doing. We need secure email too, I would be prepared to pay for it rather than hand all my stuff over to Big Brother USA.

  • Tony Lock says:

    I’m a Britexpat currently living in Itay – from what I understand, someone at NSA has said that ” Americans have nothing to fear from Prism” – I read this as saying, but everyone else – especially the backward europeans, “We’re watching you”?????.

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