After the Snowden leaks, 700m act to avoid NSA spying

Nearly 700 million people worldwide have taken steps to protect their privacy from NSA surveillance, according to an international internet security survey

An international survey of internet users has found more than 39 percent have taken steps to protect their online privacy and security as a result of spying revelations by one-time NSA employee Edward Snowden.

The survey, conducted by the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), found that 43 percent of Internet users now avoid certain websites and applications and 39 percent change their passwords regularly.

The survey reached 23,376 Internet users in 24 countries and was conducted between October 7 and November 12. The countries surveyed included Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Japan and the United States.

Cryptographer and computer security specialist Bruce Schneier lamented the media portrayal of the survey's findings, with some journalists claiming it shows out how few people were affected by Snowden's actions or even know his name.

"The press is mostly spinning this as evidence that Snowden has not had an effect: "merely 39 percent," "only 39 percent," and so on," Schneier wrote in a blog.

The news articles "are completely misunderstanding the data," Schneier said, pointing to the fact that the survey found that 39 percent of Internet users in the world have heard of Snowden.

Snowden's whistleblowing on the NSA is having an enormous impact, Schneier wrote.

"I ran the actual numbers country by country, combining data on internet penetration with data from this survey. Multiplying everything out, I calculate that 706 million people have changed their behaviour on the internet because of what the NSA and GCHQ [a British intelligence and security organization] are doing.

Two-thirds (64 percent) of users indicated they are more concerned today about online privacy than they were a year ago. When given a choice of various governance sources to effectively run the world-wide internet, a majority (57 percent) chose the multi-stakeholder option -- a "combined body of technology companies, engineers, non-governmental organizations and institutions that represent the interests and will of ordinary citizens, and governments."

A majority (54 percent) indicated they would also trust an international body of engineers and technical experts to store their online data, while only 36 percent of users would trust the United States to play an important role in running the internet.

Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of the internet users surveyed indicated they want their online data and personal information to be physically stored on a secure server in their own country.

Those surveyed also indicated that 64 percent are concerned about government censorship of the internet and 62 percent are worried about government agencies from countries other than the U.S. secretly monitoring their online activities

61 percent indicated they are concerned about police or other government agencies from their own country secretly monitoring their online activities.

Another notable finding: that 83 percent of users believe that affordable access to the internet should be a basic human right.

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