A secret room for your digital self

by | Dec 24, 2018 | Lifestyle, What if:

Reading time: 4 minutes

What if you decide to go under the radar, without disconnecting completely

Ignorance is a blessing and I could not agree more on this once meaningless phrase. The problem comes when we are aware and awake towards our own ignorance, then it turns out to be just a silly blindness.

There was a time when our tech-savvy friend was approaching us unraveling the latest conspiracy theory of the dark people of the web. They were going to spy on us, track us through our IP, and follow every move and action on the internet. The internet thou wasn’t a real deal, yet.

At that time, we would just deviate the topic with a soft “shut up” and keep using our credit card in physical stores only, still reducing our rating-score when default happened every second month.

But in the world of today, pieces of evidence are as clear as the wind of racism raging in western countries. Yes, we can decide to look away. It doesn’t change the fact that it’s happening and we can observe it.

Is there a way to avoid being reached by the advertising frenzy?

– You

I want to keep it simple. Breaches, hacking, data thefts, and scandals are pointing clearly at mega-corps with unethical behaviors. And maybe for the first time in our recent history, we are not talking about Pharmaceutical. Google, Facebook, but also Yahoo, Apple and more, were all kindly asked (read: forced) to apply to the PRISM program promoted by NSA for national surveillance, with the goal of easily “handle and have access to data” across internet communications. I always thought this last one was enough of a reason to quit most of the related services but once more humanity proved me wrong. And I guess you were thinking “Snowden” was only a movie title.

The concept of selling data as a business model is not particularly worse than testing beauty products on animals or suing a company over a fake patent. It should be unacceptable that your personal information are given to third parties without a specific and declared commercial scope and without even evaluating who is requiring to access those data. There are smarter ways to create a direct connection with a potential user, mass-manipulation of opinion seems a bit far from any of those I am aware of.

Therefore, take distance from the “new oil” merchants, and start to actually decide for yourself, embracing whatever accessible information we have to get that decision right. Unfortunately, it’s one of those “less evil” choice we are talking to.

Switch off from Google and Facebook could be easier than you think. We all want the zero-factor effort to commute, communicate, shop and mingle. Here’s a list of alternative services you can adopt:

Web Browsing

This is an easy one: Firefox. No need to look further, the open source browser backed by nonprofit (yet once sponsored heavily by Google) Mozilla Foundation is the most loved by developers. And should be yours too.
The setting for privacy will grant the security you need. 


Search Engine

DuckDuckGo where the other don’t. Forget promotional algorithm and historical contents. DDG make privacy its reason to live. It’s also super light as it’s written mainly in Python and Pearl.

Email

Fastmail will be the go-to alternative, but if you are looking for something really secure for your company, have a look at ProtonMail.
Top-rated security policies (tricky) and Switzerland-based servers, ProtonMail built the best infrastructure scenario for your daily emailing. Given that you still use emails in 2019.

Documents and Office Suites

Whatever happened to OpenOffice, you can stick to that or look into Libre Office. Zoho has a very good range of services too, but they are getting bigger and therefore risky. Cloud-based software like AirTable, Asana and Apple suite do the work, but we get back to data safety issues.


Video streaming and hosting

Vimeo is on an impressive growth and it’s keeping the quality bar quite high. The business model is straightforward, so rest assured that it will keep going. If you are a data nerd, then Wistia (privately held) is a good choice too.

Storage and Cloud

Top-rated will be DropBox. There are tons of similar services, Amazon, Box, iCloud but we can safely admit they use and share data with third parties for living, so…

Social Network

Twitter remains my personal favorite. There are some interesting project ongoing but user’s choice limit the option.

New player comes out with potentially incredible claims, like Vero (the ads-free and algorithm-free social network) or minds.com (blockchain-based).

Therefore, for instant-messenger, you have a solid 1st position for Telegram, followed by iMessage (for iOS users only). In this case, the end-to-end encryption should be enough to keep your dirty mind protected.

Maps

OpenStreetMap is your only choice, whereas location data is the most valuable of all. Again, the less evil.

Weather

I like to go out in the open. Openweathermap is another open source service, pretty reliable.
If you fancy neat graphics, Dark Sky features an awesome interface and a pretty solid mobile app too. Only downsides are the costs and availability as the iOS app is published on US stores only, at 3,99$.

Bonus:

Images

Unsplash will unplug you from Google search mining and it efficiently gives credit to the authors of the images. If you are looking for creative images it’s much better than google

Flights

Skyscanner was my favorite before being acquired by the Chinese Ctrip.com (we are all familiar with their concept of fairness) but it’s still the most reliable. Kayak.com could be your alternative, being both meta-search engine (aggregator of results, linking you to the source) there is less risk of data usage. Check out travelpirates.com for best deals and packages.


Flirting/dating app

Do not underestimate Tinder and Grinder: they both forced Facebook to allow peaking into user’s privacy in the name of user’s behavior data they have access to, running on a billion “swipes” per day. OKcupid doesn’t require you to log in with Facebook, but there’s no happy ending this time: none of the dating app with a decent users-base (which I presume is needed to find your mingle-partner) treats user data safely enough.
If you care about your privacy over your chance to get lucky, the old school method and a good drink are better.