Volume No. 18 Issue No. 4 April 2021  

  Google is EVERYWHERE
  Mark Stoller

     Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
One of life’s many lessons: If you complain about something, you owe a recommended solution.
   Recently, I’ve lamented about the lack of privacy on the internet. Hold on to your seat because it only gets worse with the all-intrusive Google.
   For starters, Google is no longer just a search company. They are a tracking company and have built a robust profile about — YOU.
   Even if you do not use Google products directly, they try to track as much of your activity as possible. Google trackers are found on 75% of the top million websites. Google runs most of the ads you see across the internet and in your phone apps.
   Additionally, Google permanently saves every search string you’ve ever typed into Google (e.g.,“itchy buttocks”).
   They track every video you watch on YouTube — Google owns YouTube.
   If you use Android (Google-owned product), then Google also tracks every address you have visited via Google Location Services; how often you use your apps; when you use them; where you use them; and with whom you use them to interact.
   Android text messages, unlike on iOS (Apple), are not encrypted by default, and Google has your photos, even the ones you think you deleted (facial recognition).
   If you use Gmail — they have all your emails; Google Calendar — they know your schedule; Google Home — they store a live recording of every command you (or anyone else) has ever spoken to your device (voice recognition).
   What if I use incognito mode?
   That does not keep you secure and private because every website you visit can still see your real IP address and location.
   Key terms:
   Security: How does the browser protect you from hackers, vulnerabilities and online exploits?
   Privacy: Does the browser collect much user data and who does it share it with? Can you control your own information? Does it block ads?
   Here are recommended options to escape the Google Boogeyman: (https://spreadprivacy.com/how-to-remove-google/)
  • Google Search → DuckDuckGo (free + automatically blocks trackers
  • Gmail, Calendar, Contacts → FastMail (paid), ProtonMail (free + paid options), Tutanota (free + paid options)
  • YouTube → Vimeo (free + paid options)
  • Google Maps → Apple Maps (free), OpenStreetMap (free)
  • Google Drive → Resilio Sync (free + paid options), Tresorit (paid)
  • Android → iOS (Apple
  • Google Chrome → Firefox (free), Brave (free), Vivaldi (free)
  • Blogger → Ghost (paid), WordPress.com (free + paid options)
  • Google Hangouts/Meet → Jami (free), Apple FaceTime (free), Microsoft Teams (free + paid option)
  • Google Duo & Android Messages → Signal (free), Telegram (free)
  • Google Groups → MeWe (free + paid version), Discourse (paid/free if self-hosted)
  • Best Encrypted Messaging Apps: Signal Private Messenger, Telegram, iMessage, Threema, Wickr Me, Silence, Viber Messenger, WhatsApp (encrypted but owned by Facebook), Dust, Status; (https://fossbytes.com/best-secure-encrypted-messaging-apps/)
  • Secure browsers that protect your privacy: Brave, Tor, Firefox, Iridium, Epic Privacy, GNU IceCat.
  • Four browsers that aren’t as secure as you think: Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Safari, Opera (https://www.bitcatcha.com/blog/most-secure-browser/)
  • The only way to truly protect your identity and privacy when surfing the web is to combine a secure browser with a reputable Virtual Private Network.
    • A Virtual Private Network (VPN) establishes an encrypted tunnel for data transfer between you and a remote VPN server.
    • A VPN hides/masks your actual IP address with the VPN server’s IP address located at a different geographical location than you. All the data traveling between the internet and your device travels through the encrypted tunnel and is virtually untraceable.

   Visit the URLs — do the research. With the above resources, I ,too, have made changes to protect my digital presence.
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