One of the things Snowden talks about, I think it was in Citizenfour, is that his biggest fear is that in 3 years the intelligence scandal will blow over. It was a huge break, and it was in the news for a very long time as was he. But ultimately, I feel like it has faded into the back of many people’s heads.
Now the report is a good way of testing that.
Interestingly, 34% of those who were aware of surveillance have taken at least one step to shield their information from the government.
Of the respondents who had heard, 61% were less confident that the programs were serving the public interest.
25% said they used more complex passwords and 19% said they had changed the privacy settings on their social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter. This really doesn’t mean much if the NSA is given access to servers, at which point the complex password is just plaintext (complex passwords are only useful to combat brute-force approaches to hashing).
60% said it’s acceptable to monitor the communications of American leaders. And 54% said it was acceptable for foreign citizens. This is compared to 40% who believe in monitoring American citizens.
The report mentioned that an independent board appointed by the whitehouse called Civil Liberties Oversight Board suggested that the bulk surveillance did not help prevent attacks. And suggested that the intelligence bodies cease this practice of mass collection.
Throughout the report it became clear that the more an individual has heard/read about the surveillance, the more strong their concern is over that surveillance. However, it should be noted that these two could be bidirectional in cause, because if you’re concerned you’re probably more likely to read more about it.
The public is evenly split as to whether the court system is doing a good job at balancing the public’s right with the needs of intelligence. Which is interesting, because these programs should have been debated in public courts, not private ones. It also appeared from Snowden that these courts said “yes” to every request.
49% believe it is okay to monitor a person who used encryption software to hide files. Which is interesting because that would include pretty much every business ever. What about someone who desires to keep their diary private because it contains relatively harmless information about friends?
Of those who knew about the programs, between 10% and 20% changed the way they used email, search engines, social media, cell phones, texts, and apps. Again, the more you know the more you change your activity.
Seems like a primary reason people don’t change is apathy.
What I found really interesting:
10% use search engines that don’t track history
5% use privacy enhancing browser extesions
4% have adopted encryption for calls and texts
3% have used proxy servers
2% have used PGP
2% have used Tor
1% have use FireChat (locally networked).
Also, the top two popular ones do little. Especially the privacy enhancing browser extension which just prevents advertising tracking, for the most part.
Both heavy and light internet users were equally likely to not know of these tools.
With regard to the the protections, many of which are usually for the tech savvy, such as PGP and Tor, a notable number of respondents put “not applicable to me”. Indicating they didn’t understand what they did.