How to Live Without Google and Other Evil Tech Giants, Part 3
Clouds & Sync
- Nextcloud is what you use if you need a cloud. Mine is empty – I only use it in rare occasions so someone can send me a file which I delete from the cloud once I downloaded it. So I don't have much to say here.
- DAVx⁵ is a mobile app that let's you sync your contacts & calendar to your Nextcloud.
- /e/ cloud is the cloud that comes with the /e/ mobile operating system. You can use it to automatically sync all your important data.
- Libre Office is a full office suite for desktop. I use it everyday and never missed a feature.
- Framasoft is an awesome free software community from France that offers a lot of free online tools for collaborative work on documents among many, many other things. If you know French and another language please help them with translations.
- Faircoin is a socialist cryptocurrency. If you want privacy during online payments there is probably no way around cryptocurrencies and since this article is about avoiding surveillance capitalism, why not go with an anti-capitalistic currency? Faircoin's growth rate is controlled and steady to avoid speculations. It is not mined and energy consumption during transactions is low to minimize the ecological impact which is very high for other cryptocurrencies.
- Liberapay would be a great option for recurring payments/donations, but as it depends on Paypal and/or Stripe I can't recommend it (yet?).
- OpenBazaar is an online marketplace where you can buy and sell anything using cryptocurrencies.
- FairMarket for now is a very small online marketplace using FairCoins.
- Avocado Store (Environmental Tip) is once again an ethical choice I'm throwing in here. It is a shop for eco-fashion and home supplies where each product must fulfill at least one principle (like bio, long-lasting, recycled & recycleable, vegan,...) ❗️ Unfortunately the site is hosted on the Google cloud and contains Google tracking and all pictures are stored on the Amazon cloud.
- For movie–, music– and book-stores jump back to Part 2.
I'm not a developer. Not even slightly. So I'll keep this short.
- Savannah (Freedom and Privacy Tip) is the right choice for 100% free software.
- Gitlab.com (Beginner Tip) is a collaboration platform often recommended, e.g. by Prsim-break and it is the one F-Droid trusts with their data.
❗️ Beware though, Gitlab.com it is hosted on the Google cloud. The community edition is free software and can be used to power platforms hosted on other clouds. E.g.:
- FramaGit is hosted by Framasoft.
- Notable mention: Gitea
I passionately hate Google reCaptcha. There is so much tracking going on on the web that I can just block away – many sites will still work. But once a website developer chooses to use reCaptcha for a site where you need to register to use that's game over.
- qvittersimplesecurity seems to work well, e.g. on gnusocial.cc.
- Securimage seems straight forward looking at their demo.
- Other finds: visualCaptcha, Authen-Captcha, Captcha-reCaptcha, KCAPTCHA
- Also the before mentioned Tutanota and have implemented their own Captcha solution, but it is not available for others to use (yet). I believe the same can be said about the before mentioned Invidious.
- ➡️ Matomo is an open alternative to Google Analytics. Or here is a thought: Just don't analyze your customers/community at all!
- ➡️ Font Squirrel is a collection of free fonts you can use to replace Google Fonts.
- ➡️ Exoscale is an open source cloud hosting platform to replace all the evil clouds that you can block with Cloud Firewall.
Generally: You'll want to go with hardware that runs the software we discussed before. If you already have a device where you can flash one of the privacy friendly operating systems I'd recommend you do that instead of buying a new device: Consider e-waste and resources! Also consider buying a used device and/or resell your old device.
- Replicant-enabled devices (Freedom and Privacy Tip) are the first choice for privacy. They recommend the GTA04.
- Fairphone (Environmental Tip) is my personal choice and recommendation. Their focus is on conflict-free resources, good working conditions and circular economy, but e.g. the FP2 also comes (came) with an unlocked bootloader, so many of the OSes mentioned before run on it. Also there is an active community avoiding Google which I am a part of.
- Notable Mentions: Purism, Shift , Necunos
- Freedom Tip: First choice for full freedom should be a device certified as Respects Your Freedom by the FSF. Second choice would be to get a device from h-node
- Purism (Beginner Tip) is one of the manufacturers with devices available on h-node. Their Librem devices come with their before mentioned and FSF-endorsed PureOS. They are definitely high up on the list for my next device, not that that's anytime soon. I also recommend them for GNU/Linux beginners because compatibility between device and OS is surely not an issue if both come from the same company.
- why! (Environmental Tip) is a Swiss company that makes repairable computers running Ubuntu. For Linux beginners I can really recommend them. My next computer (which will be in many, many years) will probably be something different though.
- First up: Avoid smart devices, especially home assistents like Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod and smart watches like the Apple watch. You don't need them. You really don't, but if I can't convince you then get a Mycroft Mark.
- For other devices check out the FSF recommendations and Mozilla's Privacy Not Included Guide.
- Generally just avoid devices with sensors & an internet connection unless you can definitely trust them, which is only the case if they run free software.
- Devices – even smart ones – without any sensors, without an internet connection and that don't require you to download a proprietary app on your phone where you need to log in with your personal data should be fine.
Some General Considerations
This concludes the main body of my guide on surveillance capitalism (though updates will follow). Since I got lots of feedback on other aspects of privacy and related topics I'm adding this general section.
The following is a categorized list of articles by people, organizations and communities who have more knowledge on these things than me. I added my thoughts every now and then as well as related tools that are mentioned in the articles and/or I can recommend. Links in the bold categories are to Wikipedia articles. Please let me know if important authors are missing.
- Freedom, Security, Privacy & Anonymity
- Free Software vs Open Source
- Open Source Misses the Point by Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation
- What is Free Software and is it the same as Open Source? by the Open Source Initiative
- TL;DR: Use “Free Software” if you care about the ethics of software freedom and not just the practicality. If you are neutral use FLOSS not FOSS as the latter could be misunderstood as open source software that is free as in free beer.
- Passwords, Password Managers and Two/Multi Factor Authorization
- Creating Strong Passwords by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- How to Make a Super-Secure Password Using Dice by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Using Password Managers to Stay Safe Online by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- How to: Enable Two-factor Authentication by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Tool-Tips: Bitwarden, KeePass
- What Should I Know About Encryption? by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Key Concepts in Encryption by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- How Strong Encryption Can Help Avoid Online Surveillance by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- A Deep Dive on End-to-End Encryption: How Do Public Key Encryption Systems Work? by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Tor vs VPN
- History by the Tor Project
- How to: Use Tor for Linux by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Tor Browser by WorldWideWebWizard
- Choosing the VPN That's Right for You by the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Virtual Private Networks by Cryptopaper
- VPN Comparison by That One Privacy Site
- VPN + Tor: Not Necessarily a Net Gain by Matt Traudt
- Tool-Tips: Guardian Project F-Droid repo, Tor Browser, OrBot
- Self-hosting vs federated hosting vs centralized hosting
- Decentralization, federation, and self-hosting by Georgia Young, Free Software Foundation
- Yunohost and Freedombox: Self-hosting made easy(er) by Arkadi Cloud
- Tool-Tips: YunoHost, FreedomBox
- Kuketz IT-Security 🇩🇪 German-Language blog with lots of helpful guides for beginners to experts.
- 2019-04-08: Start of drafting
- 2019-04-13: Publication and initial edits based on great and numerous feedback (e.g. about Fedilab, Telegram, Signal, Tor Browser... )
- 2019-04-14: Added uMatrix, added other suggestions as notable mentions while explicitly not recommending others that are proprietary software.
- 2019-04-15: Added Video, Audio and Photo sections.
- 2019-04-16: Added Mojeek and a few Linux distributions.
- 2019-04-17: Had to split article into two parts, because too many images; started replacing icons hosted on evil clouds and removed Brave (see motive).
- 2019-04-22: Finished replacing icons hosted on evil clouds – some are not really icons of the subject, but just images from Wikimedia that look somewhat similar.
- 2019-04-27: Added a Books section and more adds to Part 2
- 2019-04-29: Published Part 3.
- 2019-05-01: Revamped the Desktop Operating Systems section with some new additions. Also started replacing words the FSF says to avoid.
- 2019-05-02: Added highlights for Beginner, Freedom, Privacy, Environmental and Overall tips in some sections.
- 2019-05-03: Added General Considerations section.
- 2019-05-06: Removed link to AlternativeTo. Here is why.
- 2019-05-10: Updated invidio.us with a tip from @kuketzblog.
- 2019-05-16: Added a few more browser addons.
- 2019-05-22: Updated the browsers section in celebration of the first stable release for the mobile Tor Browser.
- 2019-05-30: Rewrote the Instant Messaging section and the text about Tutanota. Part 1 reached 10.000 views today!