I’ve decided that this year is going to be the year that I try to limit the
amount of information I put out onto the Interwebs and hone my social presences
and take back my privacy as best as I can. I’m “liking” less, I’m not going to
reveal my location and I’m going to try my damnedest to distance myself from
a lot of Google products and services.
I understand that to go completely Google-free would require a pretty extensive
list of subpar alternatives so I’m starting with the products and services I
use the most. First, I have dropped Chrome in favor of Firefox on all of my
devices. Taken a small bit to get used to the fox again, but their latest
offerings have been working great with only a few glitches.
Arguably the hardest thing to drop was Google Search. Mozilla made the drastic
switch to Bing/Yahoo! search as their default search not too long ago but I
wanted to finally fully embrace DuckDuckGo because of their mission of real
privacy. I have backpedalled on a small handful of occasions and used Google
for some searches when I couldn’t get the kind of results I wanted but for the
most part, the switch has been quite favorable.
“So Josh, what about that Android Phone of yours? You know that’s a Google
product and you’re totes being tracked, right?” Yep, so I decided to ditch my
smart phone and go back to a Nokie candy bar dumb phone. Not really, right now
I’m not entirely sure what I will do about the phone. At present I run the
stock build of Android L on a Nexus 5, it’s about as Google as it comes.
I did switch to Firefox and DuckDuckGo and have went as far as deleting apps
that I felt were a bit too intrusive (Facebook and Foursquare in particular).
The push notifications about people being near me and all that could be
disabled, but I wanted to completely ensure that the options didn’t magically
flip back as they often seem to do, at least with Facebook 😉
I plan to explore some aftermarket versions of Android in the near future. I’m
sure there are some “tin foil hat” versions of Android out there. Sadly, I also
want to keep up with the latest Android so switching firmware may not end up
Gmail and Gtalk are the two things that I probably won’t be able to dump. Email
as a whole is something I would love to go back to running myself but the fact
is that Google does one helluva job with spam filtering that I haven’t been
able to match on my own.
Gtalk has actually been a bit of a pain point for me for a while, that and
iCloud messaging. I find that more and more often these days my messages aren’t
making it to their recipients and messages from my buds aren’t making it to me.
It’s a hard sell to tell everyone that you’re going to be on another platform
and they need to switch, but I’m coming to that, especially if the service does
a better job of making sure the messages make it to where they are going.
In the past I’ve used the OTR (Off The Record) encryption but it ends up being
more of a pain in the ass than anything else. This holds especially true for
when you or the person you’re talking to are on a mobile device that doesn not
support the encryption. It’s a great concept but falls very short for me in
terms of usability.
I’m going to keep looking for ways to increase my privacy in 2015, so if you
have any tips, trick or hacks that will help me with this journey, feel free to