Herein is a list of services which make an effort to respect privacy and do not sell your data. This list is starting out small and will continue to grow as I receive suggestions and find time to locate more services as well. I will not be posting services that I have not personally checked out in an attempt to keep the quality bar high. It would be easy for me to do a search right now and just throw up a bunch of links of services which claim to respect your privacy, but I have chosen to personally vet each and every one. That said, know that any time you are using any service, there is some risk of compromise because you are providing your personal information to a third party. However, your data will be a lot more protected in the hands of these providers than with Facebook, Google, Amazon, and in some cases Microsoft.
In order to start looking after yourself and your loved ones, just start using these services right away. Don’t think about it, just do it! You’ll be surprised how easy it is to cut ties to Gmail, Facebook, and other privacy-invading conglomerates after you give these other services a shot. Plus, there won’t be annoying ads either.
Other useful services:
The Onion Router (TOR) – Anonymizes your internet traffic from a technical standpoint (conceals your IP). Note that this link is to the TOR browser but TOR can be used in conjunction with other browsers as well since it’s just a service. However, there’s no point in using it with a spy-browser which is tracking your every move like Chrome because that defeats the purpose of it!
You will notice that in order to properly respect privacy, these services must not display targeted ads or collect your data in any usable way. The ability to provide targeted, useful ads is an unfortunate byproduct of privacy invasion and this is often why such privacy-respecting services much charge a small use fee. Companies like Google and Facebook offer “free” service because they sell your information! Since the providers listed here are not selling your info, there may be some who need to charge small fees in order to stay in operation. However, many still offer free services.
You will also notice that privacy-respecting services are either classified as open-source or sometimes free software 1 . This is important because it can be difficult to detect and analyze the integrity of the so-called privacy-respecting service without access to the source-code.
The best thing about open-source and free software is that the source-code is literally online and even if you don’t have the technical know-how (or time) to go through it and ensure it’s not invading your privacy and sharing your data without asking you, rest assured that the community does. For this reason, and fact that open-source software is less commercialized (not completely uncommercialized… For that, you need free software), you will often find that open-source software comes with less bloatware and so-called “crapware.”
Note that software classified as “open source” can still come with commercialized, nonfree, and even adware software… But generally, this occurs less frequently than with closed-source software, and when it does, again, you can query the community before you download and install to be sure.
What I need from you:
If you have any great additions to this list in any category, or even a new category altogether, MAIL ME at my first name @ this domain or leave a comment below.
If you have experience with any of the above-listed services and have found that they (or suspect) may be violating user privacy, please also email or comment with substantial evidence or your personal account. Thanks.
*NOTE: “Social Media” in general is designed around privacy invasion. The very essence of it enticing and encourages serious privacy violations to be routinely committed and thus even using services which otherwise respect your privacy, always be cautious or avoid social media when privacy is a concern.
FINAL NOTE: Privacy IS NOT the same as security. Just because a service encrypts your traffic using HTTPS, AES, Serpent, or whatever and uses an SSL Cert doesn’t mean that they are not violating your privacy and selling your data! Know the difference. Likewise, just because a service goes through extra measures to not track your data, doesn’t mean that it’s cryptographically secure and should be used to send private confidential information.