What’s up with Google?
My leaving Facebook had in part to do with the ridiculous privacy regulations. But turns out, another big online company decided to follow their bad example. Ironically it’s those who started of ‘doing good’ (or so they said). I’m talking of course about the multicolour, always-happy and really-interested-in-your life Google.
They are powerful. If you have a Google account they know more than your loved ones. They know what you like. They know whom you like. They know where you are. They know where you will probably be. And which way you will take. Worst of all: with their new terms and services, they are entitled to connect all these bits and pieces of information into one coherent profile of you. Imagine having a very open Facebook wall. But they have the password.
If not Google. Then what?
Time to look for alternatives. I myself am fully anchored in the Googleverse. I have my Gmail account, I did searches, I’m using the calendar function…and so on. But I’m, again, changing my habits.
The first step – I took was to delete my search history. If you click on this link, you will reach a very interesting page. The page on which Google enlists all your search queries, from since you created your account. Now more than ever…it’s time to delete. Away with this bunch of information that will result in advertisements, tailored to what you had to eat last night.
My second step was to think about alternatives search engines. Some (and hopefully my last) google searches, brought up two options. This one uses the Google search engine but does not track your IP-address. I’m currently using it. This one is not based on Google but also offers complete privacy.
What I did next, was to make sure I would actually use my new search engine. Most of my searches are run through the quick-search field of my Firefox. That thing on the upper right (if you don’t use Firefox yet…just get it…). Up there, you can find a little arrow. Click on it and then hit ‘manage search engines’. You will be directed to a website, where you can add search engines to the field. Startpage is also on there. I added it and had it appear first on the list of default engines. It’s really handy. There’s also a possibility in Firefox to change the default search in the address field (where you type you URLs). Not that hard. If you’re interested, just ask.
The third step, was to look for an alternative for Google maps. I suddenly felt really uncomfortable with this thing. I became aware that, evaluating the data I put in there, they could figure out where I live in no-time. Some more analyses and they know where I study, go out and do my groceries. So more than enough reason to switch to an alternative. Not bing maps…If I don’t give my data to Google, I damn sure don’t want Microsoft to have it. But as so often, the answer to the problem is…Open Source! Here you go…It’s called Open Street Map. Everybody can contribute to this map, which makes it very complete. Plus: in my experience it’s faster than Google maps. It just has one flaw. There’s no routing. But once again, the answer is: Open Source. This one is called ‘Open Route Service’. Using the data from Open Street Maps, a collective of developers created this routing system. And if you don’t like this one, the answer is…wait for it…Open Source…This one is called ‘Your Navigation’. Same data, same principle, another interface.
I admit, these applications need some practice. But they offer a lot of very handy and additional options in return. And (from what I know) they offer privacy.
There are more steps, I will need to take. The hardest one will be to find another mailing program. I do know how to swich mailing programs easily (the magical formula of forwarding+autmoatized reply that informs mailers about your new address) but I don’t know yet where to swich to. The problem is…All mails will be saved on a server. And whoever owns this server, has access to your emails. Tricky situation. Let me know if you know of any alternative.
Also, I need a new calendar…But that’s another story and shall be told another time.
Happy private surfing everyone!
PS: I also needed a new blogging platform, since I used to be on the Google owned Blogger. Guess where I ended up. One hint, it’s Open Source 😉