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Users are taking a stand against increased snooping by authorities.
Thanks to some shady political dealings over the course of the past week, concerned tech users across the US have a renewed focus on privacy. First the US Senate voted along party lines to overturn Obama-era privacy protections, then the House followed suit with their own vote. The end result is that internet service providers can now sell information they’ve tracked, which includes your search history, email and chat logs, location, app use, and much more.
Of course, this isn’t a new development. Trump campaigned on multiple promises to undo many of the regulations that the previous administration had put in place. Despite the clear message, it’s likely there hasn’t been this much interest in internet privacy since Edward Snowden’s bombshell on government surveillance. However, savvy tech users saw this coming, which is why popular privacy-centric search engine DuckDuckGo has seen a spike in traffic since the last fall.
DuckDuckGo, which openly states it does not track your search history, your internet use, or any cookies, saw a personal best of over four billion searches last year. Its in-house single-day record was January 10th of this year, with more than 14 million. While nothing of major importance happened on that day, it was the kickoff of two key controversial Cabinet nominees’ hearings, as well as a major news day for tensions between the US and North Korea.
Further protective measures that have seen an increase in traffic for this week have included a sharp increase in searches and downloads for VPNs. A virtual private network is being touted as a secure path to the internet that will help thwart data gathering, as are browser add-ons like TrackMeNot and ad blockers. Unfortunately, as sources like CNet have explained, these tools are only as good as users’ habits in installing them and their terms of service. Should a VPN provider choose to sell its data, then users may find themselves in the same boat.
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