Originally published May 29 2015
How to avoid Google surveillance and protect your personal data
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) It all seemed rather innocent in the beginning. It certainly seemed convenient, and still is - maybe more so than ever, to be truthful. But if you haven't noticed, slowly and gradually, during the past 17 years since its inception, Google has evolved from being a company which once merely provided Internet users with a free search engine and email to becoming an all-encompassing entity that monitors nearly everything you do.
And not only does Google snoop on you, it takes the personal information it has collected and sells it to corporations. Google also provides that information to intelligence agencies, such as the NSA.
A recent article penned by Derek Scally of The Irish Times explores the extent of Google's tentacles into our private lives and offers some very useful advice on how to "de-Google" your life.
And why should you de-Google your life if you have "nothing to hide"?
From Scally's article, which is titled "De-Google your life: it's worth the hassle if you value your privacy":
"For privacy campaigner Glenn Greenwald, the man who revealed Snowden's mass surveillance claims against the National Security Agency, the most common response he hears on the road is what he calls the 'I have nothing to hide' argument. To this he has a simple answer.
'Whenever I hear someone say "I have nothing to hide," ' said Mr Greenwald in Berlin last year, 'I always ask that person for their email password so I can read their messages. No one has ever taken me up on the offer.' "
How to de-Google your lifeLook for storage alternatives - Scally recommends not putting "all your digital eggs" in one basket. For example, he urges people to explore alternatives for storing emails, photos and cloud content. European-based services are preferable due to EU laws which protect privacy. German-based mailbox.org is one example of an alternative mail service that does not sell or give your data to corporate interests.
Change the way you search - Whenever you can, use an alternative search engine that doesn't track your searches, such as DuckDuckGo.com or GoodGopher.com (GoodGopher is a new search engine described as "the world's first privacy-protecting search engine that bans corporate propaganda and government disinfo").
Block cookies - We're told that cookies "improve the user experience," but they also track everything you do online. Install a tracking blocker, such as Ghostery or DoNotTrackMe, into your browser. You can also download the privacyfix.com service from AVG, which helps you click the right privacy settings on your computer and the Internet services you currently use.
Find an alternative to Gmail - Scally admits that it's "difficult" to give up Gmail and its 15GB of "free" storage, but he points out that even though you theoretically retain intellectual property rights to the content stored on Google, you also give the company a: "worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify . . . communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content." Better to use a service such as the above-mentioned mailbox.org or Posteo. Another alternative is to encrypt your emails using PGP.
Stop using Google and Apple cloud services - Keeping your calendars and contacts synced on multiple devices without using the Google or Apple cloud services can also be difficult because, as Scally notes: The "big players deliberately tinker with file standards for their calendar and address-book offerings to make migration possible and keep you inside their golden cage." This "devious and effective practice" is perhaps not easy to sidestep, but it's probably worth the hassle. And as Scally says, "if you clear this hurdle, you're home free."
Smartphone alternatives - It's possible to wipe your Android phone and install CyanogenMod, which uses the same OS, only without Google's presence. However, installing it requires some technical skills. Another alternative is to invest in a Jolla smartphone. Jolla is a Finnish-made smartphone that uses an OS with "no corporate tentacles." A team of Nokia designers left the company to introduce this product, which aside from offering privacy also has some very innovative features.
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