Moving out of the Google Ecosystem

I have been using Google products for over 20 years now. Google’s search engine was quite an amazing tool. Then came gmail — and that too was great. And then the rest of the many dozens of services such as maps, VOIP calling, cloud storage, photos, docs, etc. Many of them were quite bad and had terrible interfaces, and they got canned. But search, mail and maps — they continued to be great.

Then gradually the company got huge. And gradually it began to change. It forgot its warning: Don’t be evil. Nietzsche warning was being realized: “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster … for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

Google is an amazing corporation. It is a heavy-weight in the advertising business. For that it has to gather a whole lot of user information. It tracks every user’s activities through the myriad devices that Google supplies: Android phones, smart devices from Google such as Nest thermostats, and a whole bunch of services such as google assistant. It knows who you are and what you do, what you search for on the web, which sites you visit, who you communicate with, and a whole lot more that we cannot imagine.

Google is becoming woke. And apparently is not averse to collaborating with evil institutions (aka governments, domestic and foreign.) That said, what Google does is its own business. Google does not force anyone to be its customers or be its product. Remember that users of free services are not customers but rather they are the product.

What does google know about me? The answer is quite disturbing.

The great thing about the world of free markets (markets with free entry and free exit) is that sooner or later, there are substitutes for everything. Google was (and still is) a great search engine. But you don’t have to use google search. Other good search engines exist. So also, gmail is good but there are great alternatives.

I’ve been using gmail ever since it was launched in a beta release on April 1st in 2004. (Many people thought it was an April Fool’s joke because 1 GB of storage then was hard to believe.) For me, my vast archive of thousands of stored emails is a barrier to exit from gmail. But it is time to move on.

For the last three years or so, I have stopped using Google search and have been using duckduckgo.com as the default search engine instead.

The Chrome browser has been quite erratic of late. I am ditching that too and moving to the Firefox browser for general use.

The claim of the makers of Firefox (Mozilla corporation) is:

“Get all the speed and tools with none of the invasions of privacy. Firefox Browser collects so little data about you, we don’t even require your email address to download. That’s because unlike other browsers, we have no financial stake in following you around the web.”

That sounds better than the Google deal. For more sensitive browsing, when I want total incognito status, I use the Tor browser from the torproject.org.

But which email system to use in place of gmail? Fortunately there is an alternative: Protonmail.com.

So there you have it — duckduckgo for search, Firefox (and Tor) as the browser, and protonmail for email.

I am sure that there are some good cloud hosting services that I could replace google drive and google photos with. Anyway, I have to get out of the google ecosystem. Google has become too evil.

 

5 thoughts on “Moving out of the Google Ecosystem

  1. Prabhudesai Sunday March 14, 2021 / 7:21 pm

    Alternative for Android is Apple which is expensive and almost as bad.

    We will have to wait a bit longer for more credible alternative to exist for Android. Note, that if you use an Android phone, whether you use Firefox or Protonmail is going to be somewhat irrelevant as Android sends your location information, typing information and million other signals to the mothership.

    Also, Android and apple are both walled gardens. They can block any of your apps anytime they want under all kind of pretexts.

    Like

    • Atanu Dey Sunday March 14, 2021 / 7:34 pm

      I am sure that with a bit of time, there will be excellent paid services that will give users the option to not be tracked. That’s the nature of the market. Markets supply what users value. And since value is subjective, when sufficient people feel — operative word is feel — that they value their privacy sufficiently, the “free to you as long as you agree to be the product” services will gradually disappear when people opt to pay for the services they value. It’s a matter of time.

      Like

  2. Paagal Swami Monday March 15, 2021 / 7:39 pm

    Instead of Firefox, choose the Brave Browser. Also built on Chromium (like Firefox) but it is faster and has better anti-surveillance measures.

    Like

    • Atanu Dey Tuesday March 16, 2021 / 6:51 am

      Thanks, Paagal Swami. Brave is an option.

      Like

  3. Rex Tuesday March 30, 2021 / 9:08 am

    The Chrome browser has been quite erratic of late. I am ditching that too and moving to the Firefox browser for general use.

    I’m surprised it took you so long to start using Firefox, and long after it stopped being a credible alternative in terms of user privacy and freedom.

    The original pre woke Firefox successfully challenged the Internet Explorer monopoly and offered a powerful, lightweight browser with an amazing ecosystem of extensions to truly customize and personalize it. Eventually they got rid of its founder-CEO over his support for Prop 8 in his private capacity.

    For the last decade, it has become the B team of Google, and switching to it doesn’t do much. The Mozilla Corporation makes its money from Google search engine revenue – so much for their lofty claims about user privacy. They also have Google Analytics baked into the browser along with constant tracking user activity through telemetry (which is also a much reviled feature of Windows 10) and you have to turn off multiple hidden settings to truly make it private. Add to that their own questionable practices of advertising within the browser.

    Firefox didn’t used to be like this during its initial decade – since 2011 they have been desperately copying every aspect of Chrome including its retarded mobile oriented UI that has total disregard for desktop keyboard/mouse UI conventions. A big feature of Firefox used to be its powerful customizability due to extensions – in 2017 they ditched their old extension system in favor of one that is compatible with Chrome’s extremely limited web extensions (that only let you make changes to webpages as opposed to the browser itself).

    Long story short, you aren’t gaining much by switching to Firefox. If true privacy is what you want, Pale Moon is a much better alternative, based on an earlier version of Firefox so it retains the original customizability, and independently maintained since then.

    In a world of Chrome and multiple browsers all internally using Chrome’s engine (Brave,Vivaldi, Bromite, Kiwi, UC Browser, Edge, Opera – anything you’d care to name) and Firefox being financially supported by Google to throw off any allegations of them having a monopoly far more powerful than Microsoft’s IE ever was – Pale Moon is the last truly independent browser left. It uses its own engine called Goanna which was forked from Mozilla’s Gecko, and supports the old powerful extension technology that Firefox used to have till 2017.

    Like

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