More Than 700 Million Internet Users Avoiding NSA Surveillance According to New Survey

The revelations of the large-scale Edward Snowden debacle that unfolded earlier this year is proving to be incredibly controversial, as some view him as a traitor and some view him as a saint. The story spiraled out of control as journalist Glenn Greenwald continued to release Snowden’s findings systematically, exposing the United States secret surveillance over the Internet through the National Security Agency (NSA).

Now that the world sees the NSA as a spying agency similar to that of the Orwellian dystopia that is 1984, internet users are starting to change their privacy behavior on the Internet to avoid prying eyes. According to a new international survey, 60 percent of Internet users surveyed had heard of Edward Snowden and 39 percent of those were changing their behavior to avoid NSA surveillance.

The Center for International Governance Innovation and IPSOS conducted the global survey on Internet security by interviewing 23,376 Internet users in 24 countries. The countries included were Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States.

Also read: Edward Snowden Calls Amazon “Morally Irresponsible” For Not Encrypting User Data

If So Few Were Interviewed, Who’s Avoiding NSA Surveillance?

edward snowdenWhile their findings were, at first, reported as measly and rather unimportant, a man named Bruce Schneier interpreted the numbers differently. Schneier is currently the Chief Technology Officer of Co3 Systems, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center and a board member of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Upon release of the data, Schneier started crunching the numbers.

“I disagree with the “Edward Snowden Revelations Not Having Much Impact on Internet Users” headline. He’s having an enormous impact. 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 behavior on the Internet because of what the NSA and GCHQ are doing.”

His method followed the example the 17 percent of Indonesians use the Internet. 64 percent of Indonesians have heard of Snowden and 62 percent of them take steps to protect their privacy, equaling 17 million people out of the countries’ 250 million population.

Schneier noted that it’s most likely true that most of these people took steps that didn’t make any real difference against surveillance and spying on the level that the NSA operates. He also noted that it may be true that some of these people didn’t take any steps to increase their privacy at all and just wish they knew what to do. But Schneier still believes it’s amazing.

“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. Name another news story that has caused over ten percent of the world’s population to change their behavior in the past year? Cory Doctorow is right: we have reached ‘peak indifference to surveillance.’ From now on, this issue is going to matter more and more, and policymakers around the world need to start paying attention.”

Images from Shutterstock.

Clay Gillespie a writer and reporter for many different platforms across the tech industry. He holds a B.S. in Public Relations from Ball State University, and freelances for different clients in technology and cryptocurrency. For more information, visit his personal website,