During the last few months, I’ve grown more aware of my online privacy, concerned about the usage of my personal data over the Internet. There is a great amount of information that nowadays can be extracted not only from web browsing but also from geolocation, phone camera, sensors, and microphone. Information that is later sold to advertising networks and brokers, refined with predictions about our future choices and needs, subsequently revealed to us in the form of “recommendations” and “promoted ads”.
It seems most of the current online advertisement business is build upon legal yet unethical practices like cross-device tracking, shielded by ambiguous terms of service and privacy policies that are rarely presented in clear, understandable language to the users. After having a couple of passionate chats with some colleagues and educating myself more on the topic, I decided to take a step forward and change my use of technology. I want to support privacy-friendly services that make a fair, ethical use of my data. I want to trust in the hardware and software I use without being constantly paranoid that it’s spying on me.
I’ll be gradually migrating away from some companies and products that I currently use but no longer align with my interests. My main focus will be to limit my exposure to Google. It may be a tough challenge, as I’ve become far too much dependent on many products from Google’s ecosystem. I’ll still have to occasionally use services like Google Search or Maps if my alternative services lack details, but I’ll make an effort to avoid falling back.
Since a few days ago I adopted Vivaldi and Firefox as web browsers, DuckDuckGo as search engine, and ProtonMail as email service. I’ve also started researching alternatives to Google Drive and Photos, but seems a bit more tedious, requiring setting up either a remote or local server to act as personal cloud. While I find the idea interesting, I’ll park it until I form a solid idea of what I want, since this change requires more investment and commitment.
Here are some resources that helped me through this first part of degoogling my life:
- DeGoogle subreddit - community for people looking for alternatives to Google services; especially helpful the presentation page and wiki
- Josh Moore’s Degoogle list - privacy-friendly tips and alternatives, showing exposure to ”5-9-14 eyes” mass surveillance
- PrivacyTools - compilation of services, tools and knowledge to protect privacy
- Terms of Service; Didn’t Read - summary and rating of popular terms of service, useful to know what are you agreeing to when using a service
- The Social Dilemma - eye-opening documentary about the impact of social media in our lives, can’t recommend it enough