Category Archives: Privacy

Everything related to privacy online and in real life

Outrage over Zoom app user tracking, what about all the other apps?

Everyone is being outraged over Zoom app tracking users and sending data to Facebook right now. And I’m siting here scratching my head like, guys, this is not a new thing. ALL the apps you use, whether on Android or iOS are absolutely riddled with this tracking garbage.

Google Analytics, Crashlytics (also from Google), App Measurement (also Google), Branch Metrics, AppsFlyer, Facebook Graph, Facebook Connect and that’s just what I can read from the top of my blocking logs that were running for few days.

Here is an example of my blocking logs only for my Apple mobile device…

MobileAppsBlocking.png

From 22nd March 2020! That’s just 6 days worth of logs and Facebook Graph is actually the most lenient. I only have few ten entries that didn’t even make to the Top Blocked domains list. But it’s there even though I don’t use Facebook AT ALL.

Crashlytics and App Measurement are both among top offenders. I don’t use anything from Google. Literally NOTHING from Google. And yet there it is, pinging whatever crap back to Google. Or at least trying since I have it blocked. Something apps never mentioned at any point or something I never signed up for. And it’s just there, tracking me.

It’s actually really weird how Apple keeps on talking about privacy this and privacy that, constantly obsesses over how apps operate on their App Store yet they don’t seem to care about all this tracking and telemetry junk in pretty much all apps that users can’t really obviously control or even know about. Zoom was a problem on App Store and iOS and Apple only dealt with it in THIS particular case. What about all the others? This needs to be addressed and users need a clear control over this. Preferably on a device system level like blocking apps below do, because my trust in app makers to honor it is somewhere between 0 and ZERO.

Current solution?

Until vendors like Apple does anything about this globally on all apps, there are few options that you can use to prevent all this garbage to leak data about you to big corporations…

Blokada (Android)

Disconnect Privacy Pro (iOS)

NextDNS (Android & iOS)

Basically all these work as virtual VPN on the device so it intercepts traffic on a local level and not like VPN’s usually work, allowing them to filter all this tracking and analytics junk.

So, until Apple starts giving a damn (I have no hopes for Google to kill their own garbage on Android) and controls this, use the above apps and solve it yourself to at least some extent. You’ll save battery and also data. Not to mention privacy. I know it’s not “save it all” approach, but you have to start somewhere and this is a good start.

Big tech owned companies and subsidiaries

I’ve been writing about privacy a lot and since I’ve been dropping data hoarding big tech services, I’ve decided to compile a list of companies owned by Google, Facebook and the likes that are marketed under entirely different name, but essentially operated by these big tech corporations, so people who want to avoid these companies as much as possible can do so without much effort or guessing.

The list generally won’t contain every single company they own, I’m in particularly interested in companies and services that are widely used by people, but aren’t aware they are owned by said big tech. For example, Onavo has been quietly marketed as independent company while it was already owned by Facebook for years at that point. Or my recent discovery that Crashlytics is owned by Google, which is used by many 3rd party services and apps and people don’t really know it’s feeding data to Google.

Google

  • AdMob
  • AllPay
  • Crashlytics
  • DoubleClick
  • Orkut / Hello Network
  • reCAPTCHA
  • Waze
  • Widevine (DRM used by Netflix)

Facebook

  • Instagram
  • Oculus VR
  • Onavo
  • WhatsApp

Twitter

  • MoPub
  • Periscope

Microsoft

  • GitHub
  • LinkedIn

Amazon

  • Twitch.tv

 

To further expand this list, I would like to ask you the readers to supply me with further info down below in the comments section and I’ll update the list to keep it as up to date and extensive as possible.