Enough with the never-ending privacy issues, personal data tracking, and annoying retargeting ads that follow you everywhere. Not to mention the tepid responses in dealing with them, if at all. I’m beginning a gradual but definite transition away from Google products.
That includes, of course, dropping Chrome as my go-to browser. As a (part-time) web developer, I’m reluctant to abandon it entirely due to the fact that it’s the most advanced platform in terms of proactively adopting cutting-edge web features. But I’ve found that browser alternatives can be just as capable. Some of them, like the privacy-focused Brave browser, incorporate Google’s open-source Chromium so you’ll get the same web rendering experience as Chrome itself.
Firefox, Brave, and Safari are all said to now allow for blocking the sort of tracking activity that follows you across multiple websites, and possibly even between device platforms. If that’s really the case, I’m definitely on board.
I’m currently researching alternative browsers and have found some pretty good resources:
- An in-depth discussion with Brandon Eich, creator of Brave, including plans for an interesting blockchain-based ad platform that doesn’t track users.
- A guide to using browser compartmentalization to maintain privacy. (Hint: merely using “private” or “incognito” mode will not suffice.)
- We need Chrome no more
Gmail is also on the chopping block
I am gradually ending my 12+ year relationship with Gmail. It has partly to do with the same data collection and tracking issues, but far more so with non-existent technical support, if you can even call it that.
It all stems from a nightmarish incident faced by a colleague when locked out of her Gmail account. One day, she forgot her password and attempted a few times to guess at it. Gmail apparently detected this as malicious activity and totally locked her out of her account.
Repeated attempts to contact and communicate with Google were unsuccessful and highly frustrating. It ultimately took an acquaintance, to contact another acquaintance at Google to resolve the situation and restore access.
It’s a nightmare to have to go through this ordeal, particularly when a huge chunk of your essential records are stored within your Gmail account. Imagine the consequences if you had absolutely no means of getting someone at Google to help you.
I’ll soon be researching some third-party email services that provide privacy, encryption, good customer support, and other beneficial features such as spam filtering. I’ve heard that Fastmail and ProtonMail are among the very good email providers out there.
Moving away from Gmail will come at a cost, literally. There’s a nominal monthly fee to use these services, and then I’ll be using my own domain for my email address, which I pay a yearly fee to maintain (perrysun.com).
It’s often been said that there’s a price to pay for free products. The unfortunate reality is that with Google, Facebook, and many other services, we’re all now realizing this as undeniable fact.