Since Edward Snowden’s revelations about the extent of global online and communications surveillance, the issue of privacy of online browsing habits and digital correspondence (both email and IM) has slowly become something that most users have thought about.
And since Donald Trump became the president of the United States, interest in digital privacy tools has soared to new heights.
This result is in part due to the fact that ISPs will be allowed to share or sell US users’ info and browsing history, in part due to the chaotic situation at the US border that sees all travellers – both American and not – being forced to grant US governmental entities access to their digital devices and online account, and in part due to the fact that we can easily imagine privacy protections to get smaller (and soon!).
Use of digital privacy tools on the rise
OpenVPN Technologies has recently claimed that use of its open source VPN product has considerably increased since it became obvious that privacy regulations for online usage will be rolled back by this Congress and administration.
Last year, Swiss-based secure email service ProtonMail shared that the number of new users opening ProtonMail accounts has doubled on the day that Trump won the US presidential election, and remained high in the following days.
Downloads of encrypted messaging app Signal have also spiked since Trump won.
“Trump’s inauguration was the most popular download day for Signal, which was the 19th most-downloaded iOS app,” Recode reports, citing data provided by app data company App Annie.
“Signal’s previous high came the day after Trump won the presidential election. Signal has since largely stayed around the top 50 – a rank it had previously been unable to hit since launching on iOS in 2014.”
All in all, since election day and until the end of Q1 2017, 2.2 million users downloaded the Signal app from iOS and Google Play, and a great number of those downloads came from the US.
And the increased popularity of the service is expected to continue to rise. “The more people who download the app, the more people who need to download the app to keep up with friends who are using Signal, and the more useful it becomes as a messaging tool,” the publication noted.