How to stop the online tracking machine


  • Ambassador

    @greybeard said in How to stop the online tracking machine:

    You mention only a few of the most obvious tracking methods, but how do we avoid the so-called Login verification programs (Captcha & ReCaptcha) I believe both google products? Do they track us? What info do they collect.
    Also built in tracking from apps (both Android and iOS). Who's to know what is in these handy apps and how they track us or information they surreptitiously collect unless we can find independent vetting companies.
    (Now I go by word of mouth and reputation as I am not in any sense a programmer.)

    That Google recapcha is a tracking method is understood, but while on a PC there is still possibility of.protect yourself to a greater or lesser degree, in an Android Phone the thing is quite difficult since there are not many possibilities to avoid tracking, starting with the same OS. You can only avoid them in part using apps, such as Blokada and avoid Google Play as much as possible with apps full of advertising and use F-Droid as a source. In this sense the current "smart" phones are authentic traps for privacy, no matter if it's Android or iOS. It does not even serve to use a Linux distro, with any app of banks or administrations that is installed there is a direct or indirect connection with Google. Not even talk about GPS ..



  • @Catweazle said in How to stop the online tracking machine:

    In this sense the current "smart" phones are authentic traps for privacy

    They are full blown spy devices that everyone are eager to buy, instead of interested party having to wait for you to leave your home and break in dressed as a repairman to plant a bug 🙂
    Curious times we live in, the amount of personal information shared with various 3rd parties is something that would be considered unimaginable and extremely alarming 20 years ago.


  • Ambassador

    @Catweazle said in How to stop the online tracking machine:

    current "smart" phones are authentic traps for privacy, no matter if it's Android or iOS

    Well said.


  • Ambassador

    @MaxKarlErnst said in How to stop the online tracking machine:

    @Catweazle said in How to stop the online tracking machine:

    In this sense the current "smart" phones are authentic traps for privacy

    They are full blown spy devices that everyone are eager to buy, instead of interested party having to wait for you to leave your home and break in dressed as a repairman to plant a bug 🙂
    Curious times we live in, the amount of personal information shared with various 3rd parties is something that would be considered unimaginable and extremely alarming 20 years ago.

    I still worry today, the worst, if I talk to my friends about this, there is little left that they give me a silver paper cap, while they post their "friends" on FB even when they go to piss.



  • If you are worried about smartphone-tracking and apps tracking you, then get rid of everything Google or Microsoft (or proprietary, for that matter) from your phone. If you install one of the custom ROMs I mentioned in a previous post, and do not put the Gapps on it, you won't have GAFAM tracking you so much.

    The next step would be to block tracking hosts using DNS66, Blokada, or a custom hosts file (I use a custom hosts file, and use the AdAway software to manage it. AdAway requires root but it's the most reliable and invisible method I know). This will block many trackers in your web browser and would also block trackers built-in to your apps (if you're still using any proprietary apps).

    The next step would be to make sure that you only install apps from F-Droid, and never Google Play or one of the apps that can extract apps from the Play store. F-Droid check the sourcecode and build everything from source. They tell you if an app reports home. I can be relatively confident that I don't have any tracking in the apps on my phone because I don't install anything from outside F-Droid and I check for anti-features (e.g. tracking) before installation.

    If you can't install a custom ROM you can still potentially disable a lot of tracking by going into your list of apps and uninstalling/disabling anything related to Google, your phone's manufacturer or the other bundled free rubbish. Then just use F-Droid.

    If you are really desperate to use the Play store, then make sure you use DNS66 or Blokada, or root your phone and install AdAway, and you will find that it will block the trackers in a lot of your apps.

    Additionally, you can use a tool such as ClassySharkExodus to scan your apps for trackers. Just uninstall/disable any app that the program finds a tracker in, and go looking for a free (as in speech) replacement.

    A few suggestions

    GMail/Hotmail --> K9Mail with a Vivaldi email account
    Facebook --> FaceSlim (or change social network completely, to Diaspora/Mastodon/etc)
    GMaps --> OSMand~ / Zanavi / Openstreetmap in a browser / Qwant maps in a browser
    Chrome --> Bromite / Firefox / Icecat / Vivaldi
    Play store --> F-Droid
    Weather --> Forecastie
    WPS Office --> Libreoffice Viewer (has an edit mode too, despite the name)
    Youtube --> Newpipe / Invidio.us in a browser
    Password manager --> Keepass
    Various Radio apps / music streaming apps --> RadioDroid
    Skype / Whatsapp --> Signal
    Google authenticator --> andOTP / Aegis Authenticator / etc

    Of course, you could just use a dumb phone and be amazed at how much more time you have these days, and how less stressed you are! My personal favourites are the Samsung GT-B2100 and the identical-looking but more feature-rich B2100i, but the youngest ones are now 10 years old, so finding a working one with a decent battery is becoming a challenge. My 2009 model lasts about a month between charges, and has been dropped down a mountain ledge and in a lake, and is still going strong. Another favourite are the 2001 and 2017 Nokia 3310s. I like the 2001 version because I still have a custom cover for it (Buffy the vampire slayer), and I like the 2017 model because it has a rudimentary camera and internet-browser, 3g and bluetooth.

    If you're really, really bothered about tracking, don't carry a phone on you and pay cash wherever you can. You'd be surprised how little you actually need a phone anyway.


  • Ambassador

    True, but it is not always possible to change it is SO and certainly not in the Smartphone of 40€ that I have. I have to settle for the Android.But of course I use Blokada, I use Quad9 DNS and F-Droid repository (it would be desirable that Vivaldi mobile would also be in F-Droid). Unfortunately it is not always possible to avoid Google Play, for example in apps from administrations, such as for previous appointments of the doctor and things like that. F-Droid is good, but also limited in available apps.
    With another OS I would face the same problems with specific important apps, that only exist for Android or iOS.



  • This is why I suggest disabling the Play store and all Google apps, and adding something like Blokada, DNS66 or AdAway. That is almost as good as having a custom ROM, with the main downside being that all the spyware and bundled rubbish is still installed on your phone, wasting space even when it's deactivated.

    Our local doctor's surgery has an "app". It is only available from the Play store, so I can't use it. I installed it on my Mum's phone and got rid of it straight away - it required access to her phone contacts, files, the lot! I told her to just manage her appointments on the website.

    I never use an app for anything I can do on a web site or over the phone, unless that app is available in F-Droid. I'm fortunate enough not to rarely need a doctor's appointment and I have almost never had any medications, certainly not for several years, so I just do what I've always done and just ring up the surgery. It's what has always worked for years, (and to be honest, I doubt apps even existed last time I needed a doctor)!

    I value my freedom and privacy much more than I value convenience. Other people may balance it all differently and be happy trading it for the app from the Play store... That's fine, as long as you have the knowledge to make that decision, you're aware with the consequences and are happy with it. An uninformed choice is no choice at all. Most people blindly install apps not realising the consequences. They haven't been given the information to make a reasonable choice.



  • damn, even in blog about tracking where is only one globe-known "Big Brother", i see fairy tales about "red menace"... wikipedia-style information, nice.👍


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