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Online privacy is becoming big business

Posting in Technology

Days after the story broke about PRISM, the NSA surveillance program in the U.S., the number of searches on DuckDuckGo, a search engine built around privacy and not tracking its user, skyrocketed.

While most of the online world is trying to cash in on your data, Ricardo Bilton of VentureBeat reports that companies are starting to find a niche in the online privacy market:

“There's a big segment of the population that would be willing to pay to be protected in that consumer experience around privacy,” [Jeff] Fagnan [a partner at Atlas Ventures] said.

This is a reality Fangan is betting on. Back in 2011, he and Atlas Ventures led a $5 million investment round in Abine, a Boston-based privacy company that’s created a variety of tools for blocking web tracking and removing personal data from data collection sites. The company’s most recent release is MaskMe, a comprehensive suite of privacy tools that even gives users the ability to use dummy credit card numbers. (For a fee, of course: MaskMe’s premium subscription runs for $5 a month.)

Bilton also points to increased funding for Disconnect, a web browser extension that helps you see who's tracking you and stops them; a small web privacy company PrivacyChoice being acquired by the larger AVG; and Kim Dotcom announcing a venture capital firm with a focus on privacy.

Of course, it's not like people are moving away from Google -- which thrives on data collection of users -- in droves. But there's definitely a market for companies looking to create a more private online experience.

Read more: VentureBeat

Photo: DuckDuckGo

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— By on July 25, 2013, 7:34 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure