2018 was not the year in which we decided to protect our personal data, but at least it served to realize how important they are and, above all, the important business that the internet giants do with them. Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, Yahoo or Gmail suffered security breaches that led to the leak of millions of names, addresses and phone numbers. We learned, yes, but in the hardest way.
Can we escape from these internet giants? The truth is that we must put a lot of commitment and give up comforts that we are not willing to abandon. We could ask when arriving at the sites, but it is much easier to use the GPS, as we could be directly in the park as always, but we prefer to do it via the messaging app.
The ideal, therefore, is to change the question. How can we prevent them from knowing so much about us? The answer is not easy, but you could start by putting some obstacle to Google, which handles more data of all of us by far, so that at their offices in Mountain View, California, at least they do not know where we are at all times .
Because Google knows it. He knows everything. I would know it even if we did not allow it (we do). It has two great ways to get to know each other in depth: the searches and the videos that we see on YouTube.
Everything we put in the search engine, the videos we see, the orders we give to the Google Assistant, what you buy, the people to whom you send photos, videos or audios, GPS tracking, WiFi networks to which we connect … how do you avoid the elongated shadow of the biggest internet giant?
Pay to protect us?
Each of Google’s services collects data on how we use them. Gmail, Google Maps, Photos, the mentioned assistant … Even Google Docs. They all have one thing in common, apart from saying everything about us: they are free.
Because Google distinguishes between what it offers in a sort of disguised technological altruism and what it charges us. That is why, when we are connected to the home router and we search the internet, the company knows it. Now, if we do it hooked to the network created by Google WiFi, nothing is recorded.
The procedure is the same with the Docs. If we make a spreadsheet or write a document with the free version our movements will be recorded, but if we acquire the Enterprise version we can avoid the eye of the company.
Neither option is cheap. Building a mesh network with Google WiFi at home leaves us for 360 euros with the pack of three connection points, while Docs Enterprise has a cost of 25 euros per user and month.
Of course, there are also home-made solutions for life, small recommendations that cause some discomfort, but are necessary for those who really want to retain some privacy.
The main thing is to review well the permits that we grant to each application. It is not usually advisable to give them access to the camera or our location even when we are not using them, nor allow them to put tweets or make posts in social networks automatically.
Another solution is to stop using Google services. To replace the ubiquitous Chrome as a search engine would be enough to take advantage of Microsoft’s Bing, or less mainstream options such as Duck Duck Go, which places special emphasis on privacy. It may also work to navigate perennially with unknowns, although it is not particularly practical.
Even more uncomfortable is to log out after each use of an internet giant application, but it is a practice that can go a long way towards protecting our data. If after using Chrome we disconnected our account, with which we are also registered in Gmail, Maps or YouTube, we will become a little more invisible within this era in which it is practically impossible.
Also published on Medium.