FACTutorial: How To Keep Your Privacy and Still Love Google

March 28, 2012

Google just works, that’s a fact. And Google functionality has become all-but-indispensible for most netizens.

But they’ve betrayed us, folks. We don’t matter to them. It’s just about targeting our money.

Waddya bet all those new Google updates backdoor your privacy?

Google ain’t your friend, Bunky—it’s a capitalist tool.

Google has no plans to allow users to opt of of their evil plans. But we think we can show them a thing or two about human creativity.

We don’t need to give up on what’s good about Google (well, with the exception of #13). We just need to be a bit more organised and inventive to thwart their evil plans.

Psst, want a new religion? Get rid of Google!

Please add to this list and let us know if any of these don’t work for you.

1) Clear your Google Web history, which also pauses any future data retention. In each your Google accounts or iGoogle, go to Account settings. Under Services, go to View, enable or disable web history. In Web history, remove all history.

2) We also highly recommend the free application Ghostery to “take control of your online privacy”. http://www.ghostery.com/ Ghostery permits all levels of online tracking, from no profiling to blocking by website. We think it’s cool that Ghostery lists everything it’s blocked on each page you visit. Some are really long lists! Download and install Ghostery for each browser you use, even Google Chrome.

3) Only access your Gmail accounts in an alternative to your regular browser (obviously not Google Chrome!). We like Opera http://www.opera.com/browser/. Safari, Firefox, Camino are all good choices and you’ll find the one works best for you.

4) Gmail Chat adds instant messaging functionality to your Gmail account. There are actually too many alternatives to Gmail Chat to list! Most are free and some are open source, unlike the Evil Empire. Skype Chat http://www.skype.com/intl/en/home; Adium http://adium.im/ (Mac Jabber client); Meebo https://www.meebo.com/; Windows Live Messenger http://explore.live.com/messenger?os=other; Kopete (Mac, Linux) http://kopete.kde.org/; Yahoo! Messenger http://messenger.yahoo.com/, Trillian http://www.trillian.im/, Psi (Jabber client) http://psi-im.org/; eBuddy http://www.ebuddy.com/; Banckle Live Chat http://banckle.com/apps/live-chat/overview.html; aMSN http://www.amsn-project.net/; IM+ http://www.shape.ag/en/products/details.php?product=im&platform=none; Instantbird http://instantbird.com/; Gajim http://gajim.org/ (Windows, Linux Jabber client); Pidgin http://www.pidgin.im/; and Palringo http://www.palringo.com/en/gb/ work on Windows, Linux, Mac, iOS, Android, Blackberry and Java.

5) Google Talk (Gtalk) for Windows and Web is used for instant messaging and VOIP. So are Skype http://www.skype.com/intl/en/home; Imo http://imo.im (mobile devices); Empathy (Linux) http://live.gnome.org/Empathy; Nimbuzz http://www.nimbuzz.com/en/; Jitsi (SIP Communicator) http://jitsi.org/; and Linphone http://www.belledonne-communications.com/.

6) Google Reader follows your favourite websites and blogs by reading Atom and RSS newsfeeds. Netvibes http://www.netvibes.com/en; and Bloglines http://www.bloglines.com/ also do a fine job as do most Web browsers and iTunes.

7) Replace your Gcal online calendar with 30 Boxes http://30boxes.com/welcome.php. 30 Boxes features stuff Gcal can’t do like creating calendar mashups with photos and blogs.

8) Is Google’s Blogger (formerly Blogspot) hosting your musings? There are plenty of other free blog platforms, some even open source. FACT is hosted at WordPress (.com) but WordPress (.org) is fully tweakable to release your inner geek. Guess we think WordPress, hosting millions of blogs, is just too big to fail; it certainly has enormous community support from nonprofits.

However, we’ve heard some great user reports about Movable Type, Typepad, PivotX, Drupal, Joomla. Others are here: “30 Alternative Blog Services” http://blogtipz.com/2008/07/07/forget-wordpress-and-blogger-30-alternative-blog-services/ and here: “Wordpress Alternatives” http://www.1stwebdesigner.com/freebies/wordpress-alternatives/.

Just try to pick a blog site that’s always up and will stick around forever. Don’t want your history to go the way of Geocities.

9) Picasa shares your photos and lets you look at other people. Flickr http://www.flickr.com/; Photobucket http://photobucket.com/; Minus http://www.nimbuzz.com/en/; and ImageShack http://www.imageshack.us/ do, too.

10) Google Books and Google Scholar have enormous collections with previews, snippet views and downloads. Open source works, too. Try the volunteer projects Project Gutenberg http://www.gutenberg.org; The Internet Archive http://archive.org/details/texts has an enormous collection of film and audio, too; Open Content Alliance http://www.opencontentalliance.org/; Hathi Trust http://www.opencontentalliance.org/; Scribd http://www.scribd.com document sharing; and eBooks@Adelaide http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au. Tip: Searching by ISBN often finds the book you’re looking for.

11) Only access your Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets and Google Groups online Web-based office applications in a third browser. Or use Zoho Office Suite http://www.zoho.com/; Peepel http://www.peepel.com/; Zimbra Collaboration Suite http://www.zimbra.com/; ThinkFree Online http://member.thinkfree.com/

12) Only access YouTube, Google Video, Google Earth, Google Maps, Google Street View, Google Sky, Google Moon and even Google Mars via an anonymous proxy, the TOR network or VPN. Ditto Google Hotel Finder and Google Flights.

13) We all may have become as addicted to the ubiquitous Google Search as that evil Facebook. Giving up Google Search is a sort of passive protest against Google’s attack on our privacy. We don’t even think your personal data is safe using Google SSL https://www.google.com/.

Switch to Startpage https://www.startpage.com/ which uses both the Google and Ixquick search engines but uses SSL, is ad-free and does not log your IP address. Ixquick https://www.ixquick.com/ itself is also a good choice using SSL for privacy.

Google is not the only game in town. Try these 170+ search engines: http://www.philb.com/webse.htm.

Many offer dedicated image search just like Google Images.

Happy surfing!

14) Google Translate is a valuable tool for the language-challenged (except for Thai!). HowToSay http://howtosay.org/ works as well with just as many languages.

15) Use Google Voice? One phone number (“to bind them” as in Lord of the Rings) seems pretty sweet at first glance. They even offered a “loss leader” of free calls in the US for your first year. But others also do this, and more, at low cost, by call or minutes or month, and far improved privacy.

Check out “6 Best Google Voice Alternatives” at VoIP-Sol http://www.voip-sol.com/5-best-google-voice-alternatives/ to find one that’s the right fit for you. This page doesn’t mention Phonebooth which is also worth a look: http://www.phonebooth.com/.

Skype, of course, is free and feature-rich: http://www.skype.com; we trusted Skype more, particularly its encryption, before its purchase by Microsoft. However, Skype headquarters is still in Luxembourg which gives users the EU’s privacy protections, far stronger than the US.

If you use a Mac, iMessage integrates phone and computer far slicker for SMS.

16) This is the one we’ll miss most. Google DNS replaces your ISP’s DNS servers with its own. It’s blazing fast and circumvents some blocked pages. Alternatives? Use OpenNIC http://useopennic.org/ or OpenDNS https://store.opendns.com/get/premium-dns/.

17) Use Google Wave, Google Buzz, Google+, Google Wallet? Sorry, Bunky, you’re already in privacy purgatory and just didn’t know it! Better read the Unabomber Manifesto http://cyber.eserver.org/unabom.txt to know what you’re up against.

Play it smart. By keeping all Google components separated or choosing alternatives, you can’t be as easily tracked. Feel the love!

CJ Hinke

Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT)

2 Responses to “FACTutorial: How To Keep Your Privacy and Still Love Google”

  1. darrennelson Says:

    I downloaded Ghostery app.And it lists here on Factthai – Google adsense WordPress and Quantcast.But immediately after downloading I was,and still am, unable to get on to my hotmail account.

  2. darrennelson Says:

    “Comscore beacon2 has now come up.


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