Following my last post about dropping out of FaceBook, Twitter and Instagram I have had a few people asking me:
- Is there anything else I can do to stop big these corporations from gathering data from me & tracking my browsing whilst I am online?
- Im not really up to anything illegal and its kinda useful having ads that target things I am interested in anyway….so what’s the big deal?
I would reply, that yes there are a few things you can do. And yes it really is a big deal.
Not only is all of this tracking and hyper-targeting super creepy, it can have unintended consequences. For example, bad actors can use these individual targeted ad systems to influence or manipulate people (e.g., impact political movements) or segment groups in a discriminatory way (e.g., restrict ads for jobs or housing). Even worse, these companies can keep all this profile and tracking data forever — and combine it with other data that they buy from data brokers (like retail purchase records, magazine subscriptions, telephone records, etc.) to make individual profiles even more comprehensive. Government agencies, police, or anyone else can then require Facebook and Google to turn over these incredibly revealing profiles of you, your friends, or your family.DuckDuckGo
I am by no means an expert in internet privacy, but here are a few of my own suggestions for some free alternatives to your existing browsing habits that will help to improve your online privacy and make you less exposed to data collecting and tracking.
Search Engine: DuckDuckGo
Replaces: Google Search
Why use DuckDuckGo? The short answer:
- DuckDuckGo does not track your search enquiries like Google does.
- DuckDuckGo returns unbiased search results outside the ‘filter bubble’ of what you are likely to click on based on the data that has been collected about you. Or return biased results that are based on how much companies pay to be ranked in the listings. Like Google does.
- Search results are ad free.
For a more interesting and deeper read: Why Should I Use DuckDuckGo Instead of Google?
Existing Browser privacy: DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials.
An add-on for your existing browser (chrome, safari etc) that blocks third-party trackers from collecting data, improves security and gives you a privacy score for each website .
Total Browser privacy: Tor
Replaces: Safari, Google chrome etc
Tor provides complete privacy whilst using the internet. It does this by routing traffic through multiple servers and encrypting it each step of the way. It essentially makes you invisible to all internet tracking including that of your own internet provider.
For day to day web browsing you probably are not going to need Tor, but if you really need more reliable anonyminity this is an option.
Replaces: Gmail, Yahoo mail etc
Although Google swears it does not actually read your emails it does treat your Gmail mailbox as company property, scanning emails with powerful software to extract a lot of information about you.
ProtonMail is a free (basic service, subscription for added features) email provider based in Switzerland that offers secure (end to end encryption) that does not collect any information from your communications.
More information on this HERE.
Proton Mail has a clean interface and the ability to send encrypted messages to non-proton mail recipients as well as have emails “self destruct” after a set time.
Replaces: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger etc.
Heavily encrypted messaging service that can be used on multiple devices that has plenty of communication features and no adds.
You can also use Telegram to place encrypted calls.
I cant help you here. There are several open-source social media platforms out there that promise not to collect data about you whilst you are using them but the problem is, just about EVERYBODY else you want to connect to is using the usual suspects: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram.
Perhaps this will change in the future.
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