Will add references later I have them
So over the last 5 - 10 years many people have become more focused on privacy when communicating, not just with colleagues, customers, and employers, but also for private communications. The reason for this is that we now know that Google, Facebook, and other companies “peek” in our correspondence with others, to identify relevant, for them, information. It is known that Facebook use the information to tailor commercials more aggressively towards you and its know that companies, not just Facebook, sell the information to other companies and we simply do not know what they do with the information. So how can we as users of this service combat this and can we actually defend combating these procedures?
I will start by answering the later. Well the answer is complex, if one can remember as far back as the mid nineties one would remember that we paid to use certain services such as mail services and search engines, even web browsers if you can believe it. However, this changed with the introduction of products such as Internet Explorer, Altavista, Yahoo, MSN, Hotmail, Google Search, and more, with these products the “free” internet was born. The problem was/is that the companies which provide these products still need to make money, and how can they do that? Well, advertisement, remember a time before NoScript and uBlock when the internet was covered in adds? That was a solution, however, how did companies prove that an add campaign was effective? Well you could correlate increase in revenue with the period of the add, or you could do something much simpler, track how many clicks the add. Sounds familiar? No? Well this is one of the ways tracking started, there are multiple others, and after some time some people thought; Well, what if we can create a profile of the person to target adds more specifically to that user?, letting to user profiling. So tracking rose from a need to earn money and by avoiding tracking we reduce a company’s money flow. So, because we did not want to pay for internet services we are at directly at fault for tracking. However, companies are super invasive and does not necessarily require you to use their system to track you, an example is Facebook, they track who ever visits a website that has a Facebook like button. So if I do not use Facebook why should I allow Facebook to track me? Well I should not. Additionally it is know that Google scan our gMail content to, amongst other things, build a profile of you. Well it is fair because gMail is free, but why then not offer a paid version where you can avoid that? Why can we not opt out of tracking? Simple to much money is to be made and tracking is now a core part of a lot of systems. So to summarise, if you use a services for free it is fair that you get track, it is your own fault, but if you do not use a company’s service they have no right to track you.
But I do not like tracking either way so how do I avoid it? Well it is close to impossible to 100% avoid tracking and I cannot. I use NoScript to block Google Analytics and other fancy stuff, I use uBlock to say f… you to adds. That is all good and well, but how do I avoid Google, Facebook, or who ever, the NSA for instance reading my emails and messages? Well I use products that provides privacy. For email there is multiple options, ProtonMail is a good example, and of those options I went with Tutanota which is located in Germany. Tutanota encrypts your mail on their server and allows you to send encrypted emails, even to people without Tutanota accounts, whilst avoid the need to exchange PGP-keys. It is super easy to use, only problem for me is that there is not a desktop application. But the web client is pretty good. Instant messaging on the other hand… that is a tough one, the reason for that is that in Denmark most do not use SMS anymore but use Facebook Messenger or SnapChat, exactly what I am trying to avoid. However, due to the resent public focus on privacy more and more are switching back to SMS or other services, for instance WhatsApp. But again a problem, a Cell Service Provide can read your SMS’es and WhatsApp is owned by Facebook. So what do we do well we can look at service such as Telegram, which I also use, but the problem is that companies such as Telegram do not explain how they make money or what legal restrictions they are under. So the main option for me is Signal from Open Whisper Systems. They explain how they make money, what legal restrictions they are under AND more importantly to me, almost everything they make is open source, so we can evaluated what is actually happening. Signal provides end-to-end encrypted messaging so they cannot analyse your data and neither can others. So that is why I use Tutanota and Signal.