There was an Internet uproar last month when it was revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was demanding consumer information from many popular tech companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter. However, software companies have released several optional add-ons or browser extensions that can help users combat this privacy infringement on the part of the government and web giants.
“Most people just think that giving up their privacy is the cost of using the Internet,” said Jeff Bermant, CEO of Virtual World Computing, a company that makes a browser privacy extension called Cocoon. “They don’t know that there are ways they can protect their data while online.”
These free browser add-ons work by finding and blocking cookies from users’ web surfing. Sites like Facebook can use browser cookies to track who users are friends with, what their favorite websites are and even their shopping activity. After the PRISM revelations, owners of many online privacy and security companies said the download numbers on their products skyrocketed.
“Once folks know they can make simple adjustments that vastly curtail what they share, they’re less fearful when they hear news of breaches,” said Jim Brock, vice president of privacy products of security company AVG.
Even though many consumers are nervous about the government’s wiretapping program, it’s heartening to know that private companies can at least in part combat the issue. Readers: what are your favorite online privacy services or products?