Let’s talk about privacy
Are you aware of how safe you are when browsing the internet or simply using your smartphone?
Before we start, I would recommend, if you have some spare time, to watch this interview with Edward Snowden back in October 2019. Note that it will be the only direct Youtube URL I’ll include in this article, but we’ll talk about it further.
Before going further here is a clear disclaimer. The goal of this article is not to blame the big tech companies that are “spying” on us or to force anyone to change the apps they are currently using. I’m not an online safety specialist or sponsored by any of the apps mentioned below. I’ve actually changed a big part of my workflow this last year, and am much less spammed. So, the goal is to let you know that there are pretty damn good alternatives to Google, Chrome, Youtube, or WhatsApp, just to name a few. Now it’s up to each one to know if they are concerned to be constantly spammed with popups, personalized ads, or those big companies (and sometimes governments) know every single gesture you do daily.
As told previously, I’ll be using non-Youtube URLs of the videos I share with you, so you can understand that there are alternatives to the second most important search engine worldwide. As a reminder, Youtube is owned by Google and tracks every single video you watch, playlists, history you have, and keeps this information stored.
As .handbrained is mainly focused on productivity, I found it very interesting to bring you a video by the already often mentioned in this blog, Tim Ferriss, about how he uses his phone, not only for privacy reasons but also, as he says “for the phone not to use you”.
Back to the Youtube alternatives, it has been until now the most difficult part for me to find them. The two only options available for now seem to be a Youtube client called FreeTube and Invidious, a web browsing option. In both cases, you can import your already existing Youtube subscriptions, videos, and playlists, maintaining as much privacy as possible.
Above any kind of privacy violation, the main question is how does it concern you. Even if they state your messages will remain private, are you willing to share data such as your mobile model, your location or language, or the apps you have installed on your smartphone? If like me, you don’t, the two best alternatives out there, for now, are Signal and Telegram. I will not go into each one individually, but you can find on the internet several reviews and comparisons, much better than whatever I could write about.
Talking about browsing, I’m coming to my last part: web browser and search engine.
I won’t go into it very deeply, since I think the two videos by dottotech linked below, are very well explained and in some way funny.
Chrome is definitely the most used browser. And as most of us know, Google “sucks” as much information as they can from users (as Youtube does). It is indeed a very convenient browser (I didn’t uninstall it myself) but I’ve chosen Brave as my default browser. Brave is an open-source software that blocks data-grabbing ads and trackers. Apart from the clear privacy advantage, it makes your internet browsing faster since it does not constantly track your online activity but blocks the zillion popups you have all day. Just as a funny fact, here’s what Brave did for me in the last few days. Fewer ads, less bandwidth, more time.
Finally, complementing Brave and while waiting for the new search engine they are developing, I would suggest you use DuckDuckGo as your main search engine. They don’t track your searches and you can browse and search privately.
I’m not against any social media platform, Google, or Facebook ecosystems. I just think that in the digital world we live today we should, and have to, be more careful with who we share our data with. So, if we can break some habits and look for better tools that will help keep you more secure, that’s something to think about.
If not taking the time to try new tools, we should gain the habit to at least clear the browsing data and cookies from our browser and install a password manager and eventually a VPN.
I hope you found these few tips about online safety useful.
Have fun while surfing, but keep safe.