Restore Privacy - a site to bookmark, with guidelines and checklists to protect your privacy online - created a great list of alternatives to privacy-invading Google products that I’d like to share with you.
This is the list:
And even more nice suggestions and discussion on Hacker News (>500 comments): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17280558
Hey Arnold, thanks for posting this. I have been really thinking about your suggestion to ditch gmail and all Google products, especially after recently reading Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future?. I will definitely be using this list when selecting a replacement!
I came upon another great resource that evaluates all the common tools we use on our computers and smartphones and offers more privacy-respecting alternatives:
Screenshot from the Privacy Tools page:
However, this article on Rebecca Weiss, Mozilla’s “data steward,” points out that Firefox also collects data. Here is an excerpt:
The Firefox Public Data Report was just released. What can you tell me about that project?
The idea of the Public Data Report is that it’s a topline view of the way people are using Firefox to browse the web. It gives people a chance to see the web the way we see it, as a browser only can. We are starting from this idea that people want to know more about the state of the web, and the browser should be a fundamental part of the conversation because the browser sees everything.
The Public Data Report is also a transparency initiative. There is a base level of data collection that’s just going to happen forever. It’s not going anywhere. We are a company that builds a browser that has privacy as one of its core values, but you should know what that means. It does not mean that we do not collect data. We do, and we enable user control over our data collection. Some of our data collection is opt-out, but you always have controls in place to make the final decision about whether we should have your data or not. That’s no joke. We take that seriously. It’s a big part of our conversation.
What kind of tension is there between being an open organization and standing for privacy at the same time, especially with regards to data collection?
So when you talk about the tension, it is often really about these diametrically opposed belief systems that are concerned with control of information, privacy and openness. Everyone naively says these two things are diametrically opposed, but in my experience that is not true because I can collect data, but I have data review, which forces me to commit to a statement in public about what I am collecting and why (you can find data reviews in any proposed measurement bug thread), in order to make sure that it’s aligned with our vision of privacy. And so data review is our effort to live up to openness, while also trying to keep awareness of privacy as a top-level concern. We’re protecting your privacy because we’re showing you what we are measuring and why.
Yes, here is the data report website: Firefox Public Data Report
And more information on how this works and data is collected: Let’s be Transparent
It is important to note that this works based on the ‘Telemetry’ checkbox that you can find in your Privacy settings. (Side note: For any new software always first go through configuration settings and optimize your privacy). Many mobile and desktop apps collect telemetry to improve their software, and usually there is an option to switch this off (if that isn’t the default already). I believe in the case of FF you see this option at install time, or first launch (not sure though). There is another option ‘Send crash reports’ that you can switch off too.
Some developers complain that users turning telemetry and crash reports off, hinders software to be optimized/improved. I usually turn these off. Not feeling guilty about it, but I also take the time to file bug reports whenever I encounter strange things / malfunctions.