Major tech companies battle NSA spying

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

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Much of the motivation for why companies are interested in protecting user privacy, is so that they can use our information for advertisers. So, it’s kind of like being caught between the government and corporations!

The US spy organization, the National Security Agency (NSA), has been in the news a lot lately. Ever since ex-NSA employee Edward Snowden fled the country to leak top secret documents, both American and international citizens have expressed anger at reports claiming they’re spied on. Not only have top world leaders had their computers and phones hacked, but apparently up to 50,000 networks across the globe have been infected by NSA spyware.

When major phone and internet companies aren’t being forced by the US government to turn over information on customers, the NSA apparently just goes ahead and snoops on their data. Now, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are taking on the government by combining advanced anti-spying security technology with legal battles.

Why go through all the trouble, when businesses are just about making money at the end of the day? Well, the public is more paranoid than ever about the NSA looking through their e-mails, phone records, and internet use, so they’ve become suspicious about the big companies who are targeted by the NSA as well. According to a recent poll of 2,000 people, 19% of consumers now do less online banking and 14% cut back on online shopping.

Stephen Cobb, a senior security researcher at cybersecurity firm ESET North America, says, “It’s a fundamental, overnight change in behavior — I have not seen this type of reaction to virus or hacking.” Companies are now advancing their encryption (data secrecy protection), by either limiting access to data if a break-in is detected or increasing data speeds to make it harder for tracking. Companies often rely on user information to get more advertising dollars, so if people are leaving their services, they won’t make as much cash. Oddly enough, the tech and internet giants are fighting government spying, so that they themselves can collect our personal information for increased profits!

Featured image courtesy of Surian Soosay on Flickr