Over the course of the past couple of months I’ve become more aware of the privacy issues of the modern internet. I’m not paranoid, but I’m also not a fan of big corporations tracking me and trying to sell me stuff.
Back in the day, I left Hotmail and signed up for Gmail, when it had a 1 GB storage limit that far exceeded most other services as well as probably the best spam filter around. I liked the company with its “Don’t be evil” motto – and somehow, over the years, I came to rely on it for a big part of my online life, especially after switching from the original iPhone to Android (because I’d gotten tired of having to jailbreak after every update just to get functioning video recording and of having only 4GB of storage).
However, recently I started to feel that it was more than a little creepy, how much Google knew about me – plus I got sick and tired of having ads in my email. So I made some changes, and now I can say that the only Google service I still use regularly is Youtube (mostly because that’s where the ASMR videos live *g*) and the Android app store on my phone.
This might not interest anyone, but here’s what I’ve done so far:
- switched from Chrome to Firefox, which seems to best option if one doesn’t want to go full on Tor… I’d also considered Opera, but there seem to be privacy concerns as well.
- signed up with Protonmail, a Swiss-based encrypted mail service – they do have a free option, but I chose to pay, because I wanted several email addresses. (Another provider I looked at was Tutanova, a German company. Both Switzerland and the EU have stricter data privacy legislation.)
- signed up with a Nextcloud provider for calendars/contacts (easily set up to sync with my phone) and the Collab online office suite. Nextcloud can also be self-hosted (for full privacy and control), but that doesn’t work on my shared hosting (plus I’m not sure my tech skills are up to scratch), and I don’t need a lot of space, so the free options suffice for now. I figured it can’t be worse (and is probably better) than saving files in Dropbox, for example.
- installed F-Droid on my phone, an open-source app store alternative.
- already quite a while ago I switched from Google as my default search engine to DuckDuckGo – this works on Chrome as well as Firefox, btw.
- I was also reccced Privacy Tools for some additional tips – glad to see that I’m already using most the Firefox extensions they recommend (Privacy Badger, uBlock Origin, etc.).
- Also possibly relevant: for a couple of years I’ve been using a paid-for VPN when accessing public wifi with my phone or laptop. Also, for my home server, because I *cough* torrent onto it (downloading isn’t illegal in Switzerland, but uploading is). I’ve used AirVPN before switching to PIA for money reasons – both get good reviews online and were relatively easy to set up.
Additionally I’m checking out Mastodon, a federated Twitter alternative.
(Edited Jan 28 with some more links, since this post seems to get a bit of traffic.)