Google shares a shady past with the NSA
The NSA PRISM spying scandal has engulfed practically every major online company, and despite blanket denials of involvement from the likes of Google, Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft, alternative privacy oriented internet tools have seen a huge boost in traffic as web users are ditching the giants that apparently aided government snoopers.
As The Guardian revealed a fortnight ago, leaked NSA material claimed that the spy agency has direct access to the servers of nine companies – Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, Apple, Skype, PalTalk, YouTube, Facebook and Google.
The consensus from the heads of the tech companies was summed up by the claim that “If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge.”
As a direct result of the revelations, privacy-focused alternatives to the tools most people use to chat, search, and store data online have seen a huge spike in users.
Search engine DuckDuckGo, for example, which markets itself with the strap lines “Stop Watching us” and “Google tracks you, we don’t”, has seen record traffic in the wake of the scandal.
As reported by Search Engine Watch, since the PRISM news broke, nearly every day has been a record search day for DuckDuckGo. Earlier this week, the search engine broke 3 million searches for the first time, almost double its pre-PRISM daily search totals.
The search engine company says that it refuses to store personally identifiable information on its servers, where as Google, Bing and Yahoo do store the information for up to 18 months, regardless of whether the user is logged in to the site or not.
“That aspect of our site has been more attractive to a growing portion of users,” CEO Gabriel Weinberg tells TIME. “It was pretty creepy when you think about how much the search engine actually knows about you because it’s arguably the most personal set of data that you share on the Internet.”
Weinberg says that in just eight days, DuckDuckGo went from an average of 2 million searches to pass 3 million searches.