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…
Opera removed due to privacy concerns. Its Chinese owners doing questionable things and business practices.
Cloudflare DNS* (USA)
Neutopia 18.104.22.168 / DoT: dns.neutopia.org (France)
* For now there is no evidence that Cloudflare could pose an immediate risk to privacy. They claim they are private and they also do external audits to have their claims verified.
* Alternative search engines to big corporate ones like Google, but have slightly questionable privacy statements. They do allegedly convert your searches into charity support…
StartPage removed after it was taken over by Privacy One Group which is a targeted marketing company.
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”.
StartMail removed due to questionable ownership by targeted advertisement company Privacy One Group.
Wire removed due to weird ownership, HQ location and operation changes. People also raised concerns over communications encryption which is apparently severely flawed.
MEGA (New Zealand)
HERE WeGo | HERE Maps for Android | HERE Maps for iOS
Apple Maps (searching for locations in DuckDuckGo uses Apple Maps)
* While not open source or anything, it’s not owned by corporation like Google and it has certain features that are very useful in securing your access to services that you own and pay for. What good is all security if you can’t access your stuff…
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.
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.
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.