Bring privacy under your control again

Took me a while, but when Google fired James Damore for his memo, that was a tipping point for me. It was also a day when I entirely dropped Google Search. And also a day when I decided to start using more and more “independent” alternative services that are more privacy focused. Some are easier to switch to, some are not. But let me tell you, it’s worth it when you realize how these mega corporations are just straight up evil.  From their fucked up internal politics to endless meddling with politics worldwide to how they handle our sensitive private info with next to no regard for anything or anyone. Sure, they offer services for free in exchange for our privacy, but there will be a point when you’ll ask yourself, is my private info and data really worth so little that I trust it to Google instead of paying a relatively small subscription for a secure encrypted private mailbox with nearly same features as found on GMail? It takes some time to realize that, but take some time and think about it.

To make final decisions easier afterwards, here are some tips on what services to use in order to break free from mega corporations mining your personal data…

Web Browser

Mozilla Firefox
Brave
Tor Browser
Vivaldi
Opera*

Some are concerned over Chinese ownership of Opera, but frankly I don’t see a problem. Just because Chinese own something it doesn’t inherently make it bad. It’s still million times better and private than using Google Chrome so there’s that…

DNS Service

NextDNS* (USA)
Cloudflare DNS (USA)

* NextDNS is currently still in BETA. Service plans and costs might/will change when it leaves BETA. For now, it is fully free.  Company is US based, mistakenly marked as France initially. Apologies for the mistake.

Web Search

DuckDuckGo (USA)
StartPage (Netherlands)
Qwant (France)
Lilo* (France)
Ecosia* (Germany)

* Alternative search engines to big corporate ones like Google, but have slightly questionable privacy statements. They do allegedly convert your searches into charity support…

e-Mail Service

ProtonMail (Switzerland)
Tutanota (Germany)
Hushmail (Canada)
StartMail (Netherlands)
Mailfence (Belgium)
PrivateRelay (France)
Posteo (Germany)
Kolab (Switzerland)
Criptext (USA)
Vivaldi Mail (Norway)

* FastMail is not on the list because it’s an Australian company and Australia has recently (December 2018) passed an encryption bill that demands companies to hand over backdoors or master encryption keys to Australian government. I wouldn’t trust any such company or government for that matter even if “I don’t have anything to hide”.

Instant Messaging

Signal (USA)
Wire* (Switzerland)
Telegram (UK/UAE)

* Wire is the only IM client I’m aware of that is open-source, uses end-to-end encryption and also has HQ and all of the servers in EU. Version for private users is FREE. For commercial usage you need to pay for it.

Data Storage

Koofr (Slovenia)
pCloud (Switzerland)
MEGA (New Zealand)
DropBox (USA)
AllSync (Netherlands)
Degoo (Sweden)

Online maps/navigation

HERE WeGo | HERE Maps for Android | HERE Maps for iOS
OpenStreetMap
Apple Maps (searching for locations in DuckDuckGo uses Apple Maps)

Two-Factor Authenticators

FreeOTP
Authy

VPN

ProtonVPN (Switzerland)

Disclaimer

Company country doesn’t always mean they absolutely fall under their jurisdiction only. For example, some companies have HQ in Switzerland, but host data elsewhere, like for example pCloud which hosts data in Texas, USA. Others like ProtonMail have HQ and hosting in same country. Do further research if that is important for you.

Summary

After long hours of research and investigation, I’ve dug up these services that are highly focused on privacy and security, are mostly located in countries with most rigorous privacy laws or they are designed in such a way no one can even force them to uncover your data, because only you have the decryption keys. They may not be free, but can you really put a price tag on your privacy when you think about it? Some services cost a bit more a year, others less. Some are even free but with certain limitations like e-mail storage space and less features which kinda forces you to upgrade. But you can evaluate them cost free this way and decide which ones you like.

Suggestions?

If you know any other services that you feel they need exposure here, leave them down below in the comments and I’ll check them out. If I feel they are worthy, I’ll include them on the list above.

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6 thoughts on “Bring privacy under your control again

  1. Thank you for the info

    -Jack

    On Tue, Mar 27, 2018 at 6:23 AM, RejZoR’s Flock of Sheep wrote:

    > RejZoR posted: “Took me a while, but when Google fired James Damore for > his memo, that was a tipping point for me. It was also a day when I > entirely dropped Google Search. And also a day when I decided to start > using more and more “independent” alternative services that ” >

    Like

  2. fastmail.com fills the criteria, australian company not required to retain meta-data, big on security, big on privacy, free trial, very reasonable t&c and pricing, various domains, etc, etc

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    1. Unfortunately, due to recent passing of a ridiculous encryption law in Australia, I’d recommend to stay away from FastMail. I’d consider Australia a part of civilized world, but going such route is what a dictatorship would pass, not a democratic western country. And since FastMail is located in Australia, they are automatically required to obey the law which isn’t the case for companies outside Australia. Which makes FastMail a no-no by default. Even if you don’t have “anything to hide”, you may just as well stay with GMail then and save some bucks.

      Like

  3. DNS
    DNSCrypt Uses OpenDNS and Quad9 (official OpenDNS will log traffic)
    https://simplednscrypt.org
    https://github.com/jedisct1/dnscrypt-proxy

    Email
    https://www.vfemail.net
    https://webmail.vivaldi.net (IMAP and POP) (stored in Iceland)

    Use storage sites with 1 3rd party GUI
    Uploads
    File & Image Uploader – http://z-o-o-m.eu
    Management
    http://www.airexplorer.net
    http://www.cloudbuckit.com
    https://www.odrive.com
    https://www.odrive.com
    Total Commander Cloud plugin – https://www.ghisler.com/plugins.htm
    (Android versions available)

    Download from advert/tracker filled hosting sites without using a browser
    http://www.mipony.net (droid version available)

    Google chat (also FB)
    https://pidgin.im (PGP/OTR available)
    https://www.miranda-ng.org (PGP/OTR available)
    https://www.trillian.im (droid and iOS version available)

    App store replcement
    https://f-droid.org (only Open Source apps)
    https://f-droid.org/packages/fr.kwiatkowski.ApkTrack/ (find updates for apps)

    Inspect and rate apps for plugin and permissions risk
    https://public.addonsdetector.com
    https://www.appbrain.com/app/appbrain-ad-detector/com.appspot.swisscodemonkeys.detector

    Encrypted SMS
    https://silence.im

    Block trackers at the network level in mobiledevices (No ROOT needed)
    https://disconnect.me/mobile/disconnect-malvertising
    VPN app also available

    Like

  4. AdGuard Family DNS is the best, Yandex Family DNS is a close second – but may be KGB-spied.

    Yandex e-mail is good, but sometimes kinks out on frequently-spoofed e-mail sources, leading to some frustration with signup/recovery – even if I add the source to contact book before requesting anything.

    Browser: Brave promised (but never delivered) an option to watch ads before using sites then “spend” watched ads to remove ad pop-ups and such.
    Yandex Browser is good, but doesn’t mate well with CCleaner. Firefox in minimal-junk mode is suggested.

    Like

  5. StartMail is suspicious for the same reason you mentioned FastMail is: Dutch law around data protection is currently being revised (and the government is actually ignoring a referendum that showed that the population is against the revision of the law), so it will soon allow much more more in-depth and broader surveillance. In addition, the various Dutch intelligence services are known (or have the reputation) to be very cooperative with other countries intelligence services in regard to information exchange. I’d consider both StartMail and FastMail as okay for a junkmail account, but considering both are ‘pay-for-play’, I’m not sure junkmail is worth paying for. One not mentioned is mail1click.com, which has a weird security protocol I found too much to deal with. For true email security i’d look to the providers on the DarkNet, if one is eager to fool with PGP, and all that stuff.

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