I have been writing about technology for many years and partly also about privacy, a topic that has always interested me because of the implications it has on my own life. And in many of those articles, Google has been an unwitting protagonist because … you know: the don’t be evil long ago it went down in history. I thus maintain a love-hate relationship with the internet giant -if the nickname already says it all- in which I cannot evolve, and not because I have not tried.
For one thing, I love Google products. Most, at least. The design, the functionality, the integration that they have between them … But what they all pull back me, that immense profile of myself that the company treasures on its servers and that if I use more of its products, I could tell you practically everything about me. In fact, I had in mind a project that I don’t know if I will do at the end because I am quite lazy, but that I think would be interesting.
I wanted to live a month using one hundred percent Google services and software. If on the mobile I already have Android, on the PC I would install CloudReady, a Chromium OS that unlike Chrome OS It can be installed independently and that after its purchase by Google, it seems that it is going to get rid of the restrictions that the company has imposed on the Chromium browser. Except for a minor detail, using CloudReady is like using Chrome OS.
Using Android and CloudReady, then, I would only need to dump myself with Google services and applications, and there are a few that in the practical aspect are worth it, lest the company collect a mountain of data with which to try to better sell the products of its customers. For example:
- Gmail. If not the best, one of the best email services out there. With this, Google now has access to my contacts and my correspondence, which is much more than the messages that I send and receive.
- Google Drive (y Docs). Another first class service in which you can fall from a complete backup of my PC and mobile storage, with all that this entails, which is everything, to the files that other users share with me.
- Google photos. Great too, and Google also says that the information it extracts from there – the photos of my family and friends, of my house – is reduced to improving the service, not for commercial purposes.
These three services are key, because the amount of information they accumulate is enormous: email, for example, is not limited to conversations you have with other people. There is also proof of your contacts, of all the sites and services in which you have an account and that require an email address, the purchases you make, the documents that they send you for personal, work, receipts, invoices, payroll, medical documents, public administrations … You don’t have to have everything digitized, but if you do …
As for Gogle Drive, little else can be added, but if you choose to save there a backup copy of the files on your PC and mobile … And be careful with Google Photos, because Google complies with what it promises or not, your photos illustrate your life completely. Mainly, your environment and social status (facial recognition can be activated or deactivated, but like many other options in the Google ecosystem, doing so is losing functionality).
But there is more, of course: if you use Calendar, there are all your appointments, whatever they are; in Maps, with the location activated on the phone, where you are going and where you are at all times; if you use well Fit, what you measure, weigh and move; in Keep there are your notes, but the list function and its autocompletion of products makes it an ideal tool to make the shopping list …
And what about instant messaging? Google still has several alternatives, but none is positioned at the level of its killer apps. However, that genuine end-to-end encryption that WhatsApp boasts, is diluted in most cases when a majority of users back up their data in the cloud, specifically in Google Drive.
Of course, we cannot forget about Chrome, where all your online activity is, including your browsing history, passwords and more; or from YouTube, the ‘world TV’ where you consume a lot of what you like, but also what you dislike: think about your political tendencies, for example; and if you complement it with Podcast Y YouTube Music, you already have the complete package.
And let’s not say if you use any of the devices linked to Google Home, read Nest The Chromecast; Fitbit… Or the Google keyboard for Android, which in theory could record everything you type; the device’s microphone and the stories that revolve around it (you know: «I was talking to my cousin about buying some slippers, the phone was on the table … and ads for slippers start to appear when I browse«), Whose verisimilitude is not at all verified …
I could go on, but I think that with the above, it is well understood the point on which the concerns of many of the people who declare themselves anti-Google turn. Seen like this, it’s understandable: a few laps you give it, it’s from a dystopian movie. And I have only mentioned what the user has a direct decision about. Ergo, you can choose to use all of that to its fullest, you can put a limit on the data that is collected -modifying the options of each product at the cost of losing functionality- or you can not use anything and believe that you are «safe from Google». But, you are not.
You can’t escape Google
It should be noted that everything mentioned is evidence for anyone who knows minimally how Google works and that my intention to point it out in such a careful way – I repeat: leaving me a multitude of things along the way, because otherwise this would drag on until exhaustion – it has no aim to scare anyone. Being aware of everything explained, if I have a love-hate relationship with Google, it is obvious that it is because I use their products.
What’s more: even using their products, writing a lot about them, recommending them and criticizing them when I consider it, I have also written and write a lot about the alternatives that exist. And it’s not just me, of course. A thousand different sites and initiatives do it across the Internet, and they do it well. It’s not all about privacyCompetition is also important to the health of the Internet.
But since I am going to give an example, I prefer to choose one of ours, one of the articles that we publish from time to time remembering that there is life beyond Google … and not precisely in the form of Microsoft or other Internet giants, because going from the pan in the saucepan doesn’t make much sense either. The article is also recent: Are there alternatives to Google software? Can you live without the Internet giant? The answer to both questions is yes.
However, if the yes of the first question is relative, that of the second is much harder to assume. More examples: you can change Chrome for Firefox, Search for DuckDuckGo, Gmail for ProtonMail, Maps for OpenStreetMap, Drive for Mega … And so on until the last of the services offered by Google. In most cases, the replacement will not reach Google’s level of quality, but once you get used to it, it will not be a drama either.
The most difficult thing is to replace Android, because the only accessible alternative today for ordinary mortals is iOS; Y as for YouTube, real alternative does not exist, but there are means to consume everything that is on the platform without going through the Google ring, although they are not exempt from inconveniences and inconveniences. But it can be done. All this also depends on oneself, it should be repeated: you are the one who chooses what you want to wear and what not, at least in your personal life.
However, there are many other factors beyond one’s control. Google represents a fundamental part of today’s Web and staying out of it is a very difficult task. Do you know how many sites on the Internet use Google APIs or libraries to add functionality and reduce load times? From libraries of programming languages to authentication methods, fonts … Or Google Analytics. Blocking all that is to deplete the experience in some cases to the point of completely destroying it.
At this point, however, there is still an escape route, which involves browsing in a common way and without exceptions through a VPN or the Tor network, which even facilitates the use and identification in Google services without loss of privacy, as long as you generate data that allows you to be identified. You can also do it without using anything from Google on your own, or ever identifying yourself in any of its services.
But you won’t even escape google. Because you can control what you do, but not what the people you associate with do. You can’t prevent those people from using Gmail to communicate with you, the documents you share ending up in Google Drive, or the photos you’ve taken with third parties ending up in Google Photos with geolocation and facial recognition turned on. You simply cannot. Then you can’t escape Gooogle, like it or not.
What is the moral of this story, you ask? The one that I have given you in the headline: that you cannot escape from Google, at least as long as you continue to live in a community and use the Internet. I rectify: yes you can. If not to prevent Google from knowing of your existence, to stop accumulating data that involves you: you are going to live alone in the mountains and let it spread you. It’s a well-known fallacy, but it’s essentially the closest thing to the truth you’ll find.
So I will end with another popular fallacy that, however, can be applied in some cases: Virtue is in the middle. Don’t get too hung up on these issues, because the battle for privacy, as things are right now, is lost. For the health of the Internet and your own, try to find a balance in what you use and how you use it, but do not whip yourself or deprive yourself of enjoying when the alternative is to suffer. As simple as that.
Source: MuyComputer by www.muycomputer.com.
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