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Big Tech spying, data, etc..

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I thought I would share my experience with this subject, hopefully it will spur some others into taking the same action. About 18 months ago, I decided I wanted to do something about my computers and phone spying on me. Myself and my partner both removed most of what spies on you and collects data. We have done away completely with the following :

 

Google account

All social media accounts

Microsoft account

Whatsapp account

Google phone

Windows operating system

 

Some of these are easy, some are a little bit more challenging, but after 18 months of using it, I can tell you overall it is a fantastic experience. We havent had a single google ad which appears targeted or related to us in any way. Our relationship with technology has changed, it has become a passive conduit for us to use as we see fit rather than feeding and steering us subconciously. The interesting thing is that virtually all the alternative technologies are better (With the exception of google maps, thats the only thing I miss, the open source one isnt quite as good). If you are interested, this is a rough break down of what we do now :

 

We have regular android telephones, but we run a degoogled android. There are several, but we run E OS from E foundation. You can install it yourself or buy phones with it already installed. You dont log onto this phone, you just use it. We are much more selective which apps we use, before installing an app we research who owns the company and what they do with your data, but you can install most common apps and they work fine. Interestingly, the battery lasts nearly twice as long because its not constantly sending data to google.

 

We have regular PC's and laptops, but we run Ubuntu Linux. This is so much better than Windows, totally stable, never crashes, loads of free software

 

We use Signal rather than Whatsapp. You have to persuade your friends and family to swap too, but thats not too much of a struggle.

 

We only use Firefox or Brave web browser, never Chrome or microsoft.

 

We have VPN on all computers and phones

 

There are other small things also, but basically thats the main ones. Once you do this, you can never log on to Google or facebook/social media with these devices otherwise they will start spying on you again.

 

People go on that they dont like the power that the big tech companies have and the censorship, etc, well you can do something about that if you want. If everyone did this, it would take away their power. When I made this change, I deleted my google account and you can check what data you are deleting. I had a look and despite never actively storing any photos on google, they were holding 5800 photos which were all date and time stamped and GPS Located. Thats just not right (I bet they never really deleted them either !). Just think about all the other data they have on you.

 

Anyway, take this info or leave it, its up to you. I am not overly technical and I managed to do it all myself. I can point you in the right direction, but thats all. If you are interested, there is a guy on Youtube called Rob Braxman and he is very knowledgeable on all this stuff.

 

Cheers

Tim

 

 

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Playing devils advocate for a moment.

 

I get they can hit us with targeted advertising but thats probably better than irrelevant stuff popping up on ones timeline. They know that I went to the shops and bought some Marmite then had drinks with Derek. How can this all be used against us?

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Thats the most common reply to my concern over this stuff. All I will say is the world changes very rapidly. Look at what was acceptable only 5 or 10 years ago and is border line illegal/hate speech, etc.. now. Just look at cancel culture where they vilify people for stuff they said 10 years ago. How many if us say stuff in the privacy of our own home or circle of friends which is probably not socially acceptable. What if they were recording that and holding that info ? (They are by the way, especially if you have an Alexa or equivalent)

 

The more easy going you are about this subject the more liberties they will take. My view is why let them do it ? There isnt a big benefit, I havent mourned the loss of any of this stuff.

 

 

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I have a website, and of course google plays a huge part in traffic being driven to that website. I used to have a business facebook account and I used to get business as a result of it, but I just didnt like the way they operated so I closed it down. Did I lose out because of it ? Probably, but I can live with that.

 

Is it possible that google could provide search engine services without the level of data collection/spying that they do ? Of course they could as could numerous others.

 

My personal view is that the balance has gone too far, so it is reasonable to try and do something about it. Could that have some disadvantages/down sides ? Of course, what decision doesnt.

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A quick example :

 

Lets say someone needs help with mental health issues so they go and visit a therapist. This could be a very private matter and in some cases you would be quite right in keeping this information to yourself. Quite rightly so. Well if y ou take your phone with you, Facebook and Google know that you have visited a therapist (Not a therapist, that particular therapist, so maybe they also know why you visited him if they have a speciality). They are happy to sell that information to anyone who wants to buy it. Happy about that ? I am not


Once you start thinking about the potential this has, there is a lot to be concerned about.

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An alternative route is to turn off your phone's GPS at all times, turn off Google assistant so phone doesn't listen to what you say. On balance, the services google etc. provide me are worth the small amount of (often false) information I let them have!

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You could just switch your phone off when doing something or going somewhere that you don't want anyone to know about. 

 

Might have to dust off the good old A-Z though. :)

 

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MI5 know when I go into the Co op ! . 😐

  • Haha 1

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