Privacy

I’m now trying to get used to the browser extension uMatrix. It’s a bit more advanced than uBlock Origin by the same developer and it let’s me select on which domains to allow or block cookies, css, scripts etc. I enabled the setting to block JavaScript by default, because I noticed that especially news sites sometimes load much faster (or at all) with JavaScript disabled and of course this reduces the amount of tracking a lot. Do you have experience with uMatrix and any tips on how to make the most use out of it?

Stories like this are a great reminder to not install any “freeware malware protection” software and unknowingly opt-in to data collection. If possible switch to Linux, or if you want to stay on Windows, use the integrated Windows Defender.

The data obtained by Motherboard and PCMag includes Google searches, lookups of locations and GPS coordinates on Google Maps, people visiting companies’ LinkedIn pages, particular YouTube videos, and people visiting porn websites. It is possible to determine from the collected data what date and time the anonymized user visited YouPorn and PornHub, and in some cases what search term they entered into the porn site and which specific video they watched.

Although it’s great to self-host your web fonts instead of using a service like Google Fonts (that may decrease the privacy of your site’s visitors, because Google can log IP addresses and other stuff), it’s probably not necessary to use web fonts at all. Every PC or tablet or phone has a lot of fonts already pre-installed, which are more than perfect for displaying your website (unless you take a lot of care about corporate design or your personal brand and require a specific font).

Kyle Piira explains, why he stopped using Google. He used Google products for nearly everything: Emails, calendars, contacts, entertainment, news, web browser, online storage, domains, analytics, ads, … But one day he got an email that changed everything:

“Your account has been suspended”

It was only a second account but it made him rethink everything. He then switched to mainly FOSS alternatives.

It’s definitely a great read! It also reminds me a little of my own rethinking. I didn’t experience any account termination, but at some point I became more critical of Google’s massive data collection. Step by step I replaced Google products with alternatives (which are often even much better). Today I am almost Google free.

iPrivacy

Matt Baer, the creator of the writing platform write.as, writes about Apple’s privacy focused marketing and how that doesn’t matter when your iPhone is full of apps like Facebook, Instagram or Google.

Though I appreciate the ads for what they are, it’s silly to see iPhone advertised as a privacy panacea when every one has Facebook, Instagram, Google, Pinterest, and every ad-supported “free” app in the App Store installed on it.

But instead of hoping to be rescued …

We don’t need to wait on Google or Apple to build feel-good features into their products, and we don’t need a new marketing campaign about the “privacy” they offer.

… we can do something ourselves for more privacy! Just using the phone less:

Simply make it a less integral part of your life and you’ll automatically reduce how much it knows about you

Don’t rely on Apple or Google to care about privacy:

Some of what’s truly good for us is bad for them. So let’s not rely on them to tell us when we finally have privacy, or digital wellbeing, or whatever will comfort the masses today.

I hope I don’t have to explain why Google is bad, but just to give a few reasons to switch to alternatives: You’ll probably get better privacy because those alternatives collect less data about you, your data won’t get sold to advertisers or government organizations that easily and you help to prevent a monopoly. Sometimes alternatives are also just better than the Google product and don’t lock you in so much.
There is some discussion recently about another evil move by Google. Google plans to deprecate (and remove) an API in it’s webbrowser Chrome, that is used by many ad-blocking addons. Of course they are ignoring voices from the community! Only enterprise customers will be able to use this API for custom development. Is it a surprise at all, that Google wants to do that? Google (Alphabet) is one of the biggest (ad) companies.
The last times I wrote about email topics, I already had the thought in my mind to try setting up my own mail server again. I already tried this a while back, but switching from FastMail (my favorite mail provider) was too scary for me because I wasn’t quite confident about the setup. But now I overcame my fear that something could go wrong and just tried it. (I’m really proud of it.
Jan-Lukas Else
20 years old student who writes about everything he cares about.