Technology

Snowden spying leaks prompt millions to protect data

NSA building in Fort Meade Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Revelations about NSA surveillance have shown the breadth of its data-gathering programmes

Recent revelations about government-backed surveillance have prompted millions of people to do more to keep their data private, suggests a survey.

Many people now regularly change passwords or avoid certain websites or apps, said the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

It also found that 64% of the 23,000 people questioned are more worried about their privacy than a year ago.

About 83% said affordable access to the internet should be a human right.

The survey asked people in 24 countries including the US, UK, Australia and China, about their attitudes to personal data privacy and whether the information released by Edward Snowden had led them to change their habits.

The survey revealed that Mr Snowden's name was known to 60% of respondents and of that group, 39% had done more to protect their privacy in response to the information his leaks have revealed.

Of those, compared with a year ago, more than one-third were updating their passwords more frequently and 43% were taking greater steps to avoid websites and software that might put their data at risk.

'Enormous impact'

The CIGI think tank undertook the survey as part of work for the Global Commission on Internet Governance which is looking into the different ways that the net can be overseen and run.

In a separate analysis of the CIGI survey, security expert Bruce Schneier, said the information about NSA and GCHQ surveillance programs was having an "enormous impact" on people's behaviour.

The CIGI figures suggest, he said, that more than 750 million people around the world have been prompted to take steps to avoid being watched by the NSA.

He added it was likely that the steps that people did take made little difference to the NSA's ability to gather data on them or to defy the surveillance techniques of large firms.

"But it is absolutely extraordinary that 750 million people are disturbed enough about their online privacy that they will represent to a survey-taker that they did something about it," he said.

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