Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2412564
 


 



Government Surveillance and Internet Search Behavior


Alex Marthews


Digital Fourth

Catherine Tucker


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Management Science (MS)

March 24, 2014


Abstract:     
This paper uses data from Google Trends on search terms from before and after the surveillance revelations of June 2013 to analyze whether Google users' search behavior shifted as a result of an exogenous shock in information about how closely their internet searches were being monitored by the U. S. government. We use data from Google Trends on search volume for 282 search terms across eleven different countries. These search terms were independently rated for their degree of privacy-sensitivity along multiple dimensions. Using panel data, our result suggest that cross-nationally, users were less likely to search using search terms that they believed might get them in trouble with the U. S. government. In the U. S., this was the main subset of search terms that were affected. However, internationally there was also a drop in traffic for search terms that were rated as personally sensitive. These results have implications for policy makers in terms of understanding the actual effects on search behavior of disclosures relating to the scale of government surveillance on the Internet and their potential effects on international competitiveness.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 39

Keywords: surveillance, Snowden, prism, chilling effects, international trade

JEL Classification: D12, D78, E65, F14, H56, M38

working papers series


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Date posted: March 23, 2014 ; Last revised: March 25, 2014

Suggested Citation

Marthews, Alex and Tucker, Catherine, Government Surveillance and Internet Search Behavior (March 24, 2014). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2412564 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2412564

Contact Information

Alex Marthews (Contact Author)
Digital Fourth ( email )
One Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
Catherine Tucker
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Management Science (MS) ( email )
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
HOME PAGE: http://cetucker.scripts.mit.edu
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