Originally I had planned a whole series of articles:
- Why I care about privacy
- Easy steps to make it better NOW (and some ressources)
- How I changed from Windows to Linux
- How I removed from my phone entirely (I think)
In the end I'm just publishing the drafts, them being longer for the first bits (intro, 2. and 3.) and veeery short for the last two.
This whole series it not going to happen anymore, because I'm not motivated to make something that would reach my expectations in quality. So much research, writing, editing, and therefore time, would go into it, that it would be a full-time job for at least a month or two. So instead you get this super compressed version, hope it's readable enough. If you have questions, email me!
Old introduction from April 2020
A bit of backstory
Recently I lost all my upcoming work contracts due to the Covid-19 pandemic and found myself suddenly having a lot of free time, and complete agency over what to do with that time. I started with just getting my to-do list done, but eventually I started reflecting too, and realised this: I've cared about my privacy for a while now – in theory.
But only in theory, because I'd never taken the time to take action. First because my employer between 2016 and 2019 was a company using Google products heavily, and second because it always seemed difficult to make a change without losing too much comfort. And suddenly we were in 2020 and I basically was using Google for everything.
When your actions are not aligned with your values, or furthermore, when your actions have not been aligned with your values for a long time, readjusting it all at once is a lot of work and takes a lot of time. But the most time I spent on orientating myself. Where to start, what to do, how.
I cannot spare you entirely from researching what the best solution is, and I can't do all the work for you, but I can give you a good starting point, a few very useful links and an overall idea on how to proceed. Hopefully it will make advocating for your privacy easier, quicker and less of a monster task. If you have questions or remarks, I'm happy to hear about them!
2. Why I care about privacy
At times, when feeling hopeless about avoiding the tentacles of big tech companies like Google and Facebook, I have wondered: why do I care? Why should anyone care? Why not just accept the state of things and embrace the convenience it gives us?
But over and over, I have come to the conclusion that it matters, and that we should do something – individually and together. In this little post I tell you about why I care, and maybe that will convince you to care a bit, too. If you want to dive deeper, I recommend checking out privacyinternational.org.
Quick note: as said in the introduction, these articles are not finished. Therefore there are still a lot of sources missing (that's the "[ADD SOURCE]" you'll see from time to time). You are more than welcome to check for yourself and send me an email if I said something unfounded. Sorry/thanks.
Why privacy matters
Privacy is a right
Privacy is a right, and even in the hypothetical case where I wouldn't care much about that right, I'd still like to choose. But the way things are right now, it's really complicated to understand what is in your control and what isn't. I knew Facebook was collecting data from every website I visit through "like" buttons present on those websites, for instance. [ADD SOURCE]
What I didn't know, is that Facebook is also collecting data when you don't have an account with them, creating a profile without your knowledge and therefore possibly against your will. (For details, I encourage you to check out this conference.)
A lot of things that are happening are actually illegal, but since it's almost impossible to check for most people, let alone to prove, it makes the fight really difficult. Let me give you a concrete example: since the GDPR was implemented in May 2018, it is illegal to gather data that will allow identifying you without your consent [ADD SOURCE]. But Google and Facebook track you in a way that ties that data to your identity – it's just hard to prove and therefore hard to stop [ADD SOURCE = https://peer.tube/videos/watch/5e5aed81-3340-4082-bcc3-9105ef5d1564 – articles about A-GPS – more?].
It has real consequences in real life
Quick note: here the writing stopped, you just get a draft.
big companies shape a world where they make more profit, we loose rights, freedom, and weight of action
even when I "opt in", my data is gathered far more than my content/knowledge/understanding (eg. A-GPS, source on Kuketz Blog and make parallel with content in other contexts, eg. privacy in your own home IRL, etc.)
if we just accept this as a norm, we loose control and democracy to lobbies (brexit, trump, NSA, cf. privacyinternational.org)
it makes me loose money (eg. codecademy data brokers, elevate premium)
peer pressure that leads to consequences in the far future (insta pictures, sending nudes, tik tok)
The trade-off of trying to de-google-ise your phone, un-facebook your life, etc.
- it's a lot of work
- not convenient (eg. your camera looses a lot of quality – to the extent where I've thought about going back to a regular android phone...)
- you can't control what your friends do (like put your details in their google contacts)
- you spend money on things that matter
- you can find a better balance with social media
- you act aligned with your values
3. Easy steps to make it better NOW (and some resources)
- habits (turn off Wi-Fi, location, etc.)
- change router DNS
- cover your webcam
- reddit.com: r/deGoogle, r/privacy, r/privacytoolsIO...
- Kuketz Blog
Apps I would use on a regular Android phone, too
Note: bold is for really strong recommendations.
- F-Droid store, on top of the regular app store
- Bitwarden, password manager
- DAVx⁵ as a synchronisation tool for address book and calendar (mine are hosted on posteo)
- Emerald Phone App
- Etar Calendar
- NewPipe: youtube replacement
- OpenTracks, to track your physical activities
- OsmAnd as a navigation app
- StandardNotes as an Evernote replacement
- Simplenote as a Google Keep replacement
- VLC as a video and audio player
4. How I changed from Windows to Linux [draft]
- I visited librehunt.org and it suggested I should use ZorinOS as a Linux distro (and I totally recommend it)
- I went to the ZorinOS website and flashed a USB stick with the OS on it
- I had to download a software to shrink my disk space on Windows C:/, you should find it easily by searching online
- I backed up everything (in theory on a cloud + a hard drive, but I did only the hard drive // I also wanted to sort all my files before, but of course I still haven't done it to this day)
5. How I removed Google from my phone entirely (I think) [draft]
- I went to the Kuketz Blog (take back control series, in German) and combined those articles with an article about Magisk on the droid alternative website if you want to root your phone
- I used the LineageOS installation guide
- A lot of reddit posts from r/DeGoogle
Note: if you root your phone, every time you update the software you have to un-root it first and then root it again. Takes a while.