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Privacy In Today's Internet

22 Mar, 2022

Today’s post is a little bit short, and probably won’t be as silly as some of my other posts (no promises though). This blog is more like an internet-journal anyway, so deal with it. :D

I wanted to talk a bit about privacy in today’s internet, as it’s been something I’ve been learning a lot of recently. I’ve already known a bit about what information we give away and how companies can use that to harness more information to increase their buying power and such; but what I didn’t know was the degree to which things have devolved, and just how much we give away on a daily basis.

The only privacy is my mind

Truly, this has become a serious statement and not one of philosophical debate. The world has never been so interconnected as it is now and never so dependent on that connectivity EVER in human history until this day-and-age. The freedom to connect, talk, hang out in 3D spaces online, chat about politics and peruse boundless amounts of information is truly amazing. The freedom we have through the internet is an amazing tool and, if treated properly, can only benefit mankind.

However! Just like any other tool it can be corrupted and used for different means, past the original intention. Much like a toothpick was made to clean your teeth and yet someone can be straight-up murdered by one, so too was the internet made for effortless communication and yet now is being used as a weapon against its' own users for profit.

Look, I’m not some bleeding-heart “everything should be free and we should all share living space and food and all be hippy-dippy together”. I understand money must be made to keep things going and for the people working on these technologies to actually be able to afford to feed their families. Everyone should have that opportunity. However! That opportunity shouldn’t come at the cost of me having to (unknowingly) give away every single piece of information about all of my activities online, and my interactions not online even (because you know, cell phones).

I’m not gonna sit here and give you statistics about privacy or facts about how much Google sucks at your internet-lifeblood, that’s beyond the scope of this little rant. All I want to say here is I’m starting to really hate that the only place I can seemingly do anything without someone watching my every move is in my noggin.

It can’t be that bad… right?

I thought so too. I already knew Microsoft made Windows 10 very tracker-y what with all the settings about data and such, and I knew Google kept information about your history. I mean, what’s so bad about that.


You mean the fact that Windows has a built-in hidden keylogger, or how they’ve made it literally impossible to not install Windows 11 without logging into a Microsoft account where they can now match a unique hardware identifier to your account, or how Windows 10 will forever talk back to the mothership EVEN AFTER YOU’VE DISABLED ALL TRACKING INFORMATION?

Surely Google isn’t that bad right? Did you know Android also has a unique identifier that matches to your Google account and how every app that has notification capabilities has to go through the Google notification system (where it can be easily tracked and catalogued)? Did you know that Google reads your emails? Did you know that Google willingly sells all this information to third parties and even THE GOVERNMENT, without even telling you what they sold or to whom?

I could go on and on, but again, not in the scope. Basically, no matter what commercial system you use that’s “free”, will almost always have a price to pay, and it’s usually with your private information.

Okay… what should I do?

Well, we could “fight back” by not choosing to use these services, and instead opting for free (as in speech) software or Open-Source software. We could support the creators of amazing software we already use that subsists entirely off of user-donations, things like Mozilla Firefox, VLC or GIMP.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll know that something you use won’t screw you over in the long run (I mean the only way you’ll know that is if you built the software yourself, but phooey on that.), but you can hedge your bets on something that is far less likely to do so given the nature of the product. I speak mostly of open-source and free software here.

Anyway, enough about you. Imma talk about me for a bit.

Plans for the future

I’d love to ditch everything Google, Microsoft, Apple and [insert company name here] right away, but that isn’t really feasible. Not unless every single piece of tech I use either spontaneously combusted or decided to turn into Jell-O… That latter point wouldn’t be half-bad come to think of it… Either way, I think the way I’m going to move forward is start to migrate what I can when it seems the most apropos to do so.

For example, I run my own home server, and I plan on eventually moving a lot of cloud services I use to instead run on my own server, where I have control of my own data. NextCloud for my own version of the Google Suite, BitWarden to replace LastPass (those jokers…), I’ve already got Plex to replace Netflix, and more as I tumble down that rabbit hole.

I’ve been recently watching more about Linux and how things have changed over the years, so I might jump back into that for my daily driver again like I did in College. It’s been a while, but things are starting to look more promising now than they did in the past (RIP Crunchbang #!). I think most of the apps I use on my computer I can easily use on Linux, as I’ve been a proponent of Open-Source software for a long time now (I use things like VLC, GIMP, Firefox, Anki, LibreOffice, etc.)

As for my phone, that’s a bit more tricky. I was going to de-google my phone a few weeks ago, but Google must have heard me trash-talking it so my phone applied an update that basically said F YOU and made it impossible to de-google it. I was looking into Linux phones, but they look like they are faaaaaaaaaaaaar away from being in a usable space as a daily driver phone. However, it would be a perfect chance to become a part of that community and help build it along as a tester and user. Otherwise I might just get a de-googled phone once this one takes a crap.

Before that though, I’ll do what I am going to do on desktop and slowly start moving away from these privacy-invading services. I’ve already replaced the GMail app with FairEmail and Thunderbird for desktop. I plan on moving from Google Maps to something else like MapQuest or that Open Source project whose name I can’t remmeber. Might ditch Play Store for Aurora or F-Droid; and other things as I come across them.

Enough about that already

Yeah, you right.

Well, this was way rambly-er than usual, but the goal for this post was to kinda talk about what I’ve been looking into recently. My research approach to many things isn’t usually laser-focused, it’s usually broad and slow-burning. Anyway, I hope if anything this article encourages you to try out alternatives, support amazing projects and to remember that your privacy matters, even if you don’t have anything to hide (like myself).

kenizl86 out!