A couple years ago, I became leery of the amount of tracking Google engages in when anyone types a search term into their search engine. The last meaningful Google search I did was to find a safe alternative to Google, which has turned out to be StartPage.com. Unlike Google, which uses your IP address to track your searches as well as your movements around the web, StartPage.com does not record your IP address and does not track users of their service.
Although StartPage does return Google results, they do the search for you by proxy so that your IP address is never known to Google. They also allow you to visit a site via proxy so the site you want to visit can't track you either. Because I do a lot of Internet searches for clients, and because some of those searches take me to highly commercial destinations (of the sort that are relentless cookie monsters that seek to track you as well as sell your data to spammers) I find this feature very useful.
StartPage.com is based in the Netherlands and subject to the laws of the European Union, not those of the United States government. Their website claims that they have never given up user data to the U.S. government. There is a simple reason for this. Because they don't track you, they can't.
Apparently, StartPage.com also has plans to launch a safe email service that would protect users from the direct collection of their communications. Something to think about if in fact Google's Gmail is compromised.
Another measure Internet users can take to protect themselves from snooping is to use a safe browser. StartPage.com offers a safe browser called Ixquick, but I haven't tried it yet. Of the well-known browsers out there, the best one for privacy in my opinion is Firefox. To enable private browsing in Firefox, you'll need to change your settings to turn off tracking and turn on private browsing. You may also want to adjust your cookie settings but be aware that if you turn off all cookies, you'll probably have problems with login sites such as iBrattleboro. (I use a different browser with cookies turned on for most sites with logins.) Once you've enabled these settings, you should see a noticeable drop in the number of sites showing you ads related to your recent browsing history. You should also see a slight reduction in spam email related to your browsing habits. It's not perfect but it's better than nothing.
One of the possible benefits of the NSA revelations, regardless of whether Congress acts to protect us, is that it may provide a boost to innovation as people and corporations seek secure alternatives to the big Internet companies such as Google, Facebook, and the like. I would expect to see more services like StartPage.com, where privacy is the point, to emerge over time.