With the federal government looking for ways to push legislation through that would compel tech companies to weaken systems by providing access to encrypted communications, it seems that more of us are taking matters into our own hands. With the number of searches on privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo reaching 30 million searches each day, almost a quarter of internet users are running VPN software.
DuckDuckGo's popularity has been surging. According to a recent report, it took seven years to reach 10 million searches a day, two more years to double that and less than a year to hit 30 million searches per day.
It's worth noting that using your browser in private or incognito mode is not as private as you think.
Even when you're covering your tracks by opening a new incognito window, your web browsing history might not be as private as you think. Information about what you do online, down to every single URL, can likely be purchased on the web by anyone who wants it. And while in most cases people are making those purchases for marketing reasons, they could choose to use their newfound knowledge maliciously as well.
And recent research shows over a quarter of internet users are running VPN software. And while not all of that will be strictly for privacy reasons - being able to access geoblocked content is often the main reason - it's clear that not sharing your internet use is important.
With the government saying they don't want backdoors in encrypted systems, except that seems to be what their legislation asks for, more and more people will be looking for ways to ensure their private lives stay truly private. A VPN is almost becoming mandatory - I certainly would never connect to a network I don't trust without one.