“Snowden Effect” Sees Web Browsers Steering Clear Of Big Names
January 14, 2014
When you “Google” something, you do not necessarily have to Google it, particularly if the NSA has backdoor access to your search terms. That’s what record numbers of web users are discovering as they flock to privacy oriented search engines in the wake of Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s ongoing leaks.
In 2013, the search engines StartPage.com and Ixquick.com saw their traffic numbers double, with more than 5 million total daily searches, amounting to over 1.25 billion searches for the year. Now the operators of those services say they are bracing for record numbers of new users in 2014.
“Every time Edward Snowden shares a new revelation about government spying, we get an influx of new users,” said company spokesperson and privacy expert Dr. Katherine Albrecht. “He has promised to reveal more in 2014, and from what we’ve heard, he’s got two more years of content, at least.”
Albrecht, a regular guest on the Alex Jones show told Infowars “Consumers are rightfully outraged that governments are eavesdropping on those services and commandeering access to those databases.”
StartPage and Ixquick market themselves as “the only third-party certified search engines in the world that do not record your IP address or track your searches.” StartPage allows users to access Google results with privacy, while Ixquick is a meta search engine that provides private search results that do not include Google results.
The company is based in the Netherlands, meaning that it is not beholden to US jurisdiction, and can credibly vow to not adhere to US government surveillance or data collection programs.
The same cannot be said of Google, which has a detailed relationship with US intelligence.
While Google’s chief legal officer has urged that the company is not “in cahoots with NSA”, we have exhaustively highlighted how Google has an intimate and secret relationship with the National Security Agency, as well as ties to the CIA going back to the company’s inception.
Both Google and the agencies in question have refused to elaborate on the relationship, and the Department of Justice has actively worked to keep the information out of the public domain.
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 consequently seen a huge boost in traffic as web users are ditching the giants that apparently aided government snoopers.
As reported by Search Engine Watch last year, other privacy search engines, such as DuckDuckGo, have also experienced record levels of traffic. Tools such as as Cryptocat, which encrypts chat messages before they are sent and Tor, which facilitates anonymous surfing, saw downloads increase exponentially. It was then revealed by Snowden that the NSA had rather unsuccessfully attempted to crack such tools.
The Demand that StartPage and Ixquick have seen has led executives to launch a new privacy-friendly email company: StartMail.com. While they were optimistic over it’s inception, while it was being developed, they never expected over 50,000 people to sign up to beta test the new service, which is rolling out this year.
“We thought we’d get interest from a few thousand people, but the response was so overwhelming, we were forced to close the beta signup early,” said Albrecht.
“It may have taken Internet users a while to make sense of Snowden’s revelations and figure out what to do about them, but now they are clearly responding in huge numbers,” Albrecht observed. “The backlash against government intrusion into the lives of average citizens is making private search and email services a hot commodity in 2014.”
Steve Watson is the London based writer and editor for Alex Jones’ Infowars.com, and Prisonplanet.com. He has a Masters Degree in International Relations from the School of Politics at The University of Nottingham, and a Bachelor Of Arts Degree in Literature and Creative Writing from Nottingham Trent University.