Big Tech has all of us in a box. Now is as good a time as any to reassess your digital needs and begin untangling yourself from the Big Tech chains that can disconnect you from your digital property based on a glitch or a whim.
You may not be able to kick the Google habit cold turkey, and you shouldn’t. You don’t want to lose years of accumulated data and purchases like music, books and software. But why not start today with some baby steps toward a safer and more independent digital life? Start with a few new products, all of which are free:
Set up a new email with ProtonMail.
Use DuckDuckGo for search, and set aside the security reasons to stop using Google search, it is really just plain awful. You are used to it, but once you are off it and detoxed for a few days, you will wonder why you didn’t delete Google search years ago.
Here’s a great list from Restore Privacy with many alternatives for the common Google / Alphabet products.
“This is just how life is when you’re dealing with trillion-dollar faceless corporations,” said Aral Balkan, who has long campaigned against the control of our data – and lives – by big tech firms. “It’s just one reason why it’s so important that we fund and develop human-scale small tech as an alternative to the stranglehold of big tech on our lives.”
Cleroth, a game developer who asked not to use his real name, woke up to see a message that all his Google accounts were disabled due to “serious violation of Google policies.”
The lack of transparency about how he broke their terms of service also has him worried. “I keep thinking there has to be a reason they’ve suspended me, even though it could just be some algorithmic glitch or something.,” he said. “It’s difficult to shake this feeling, given that Google practically has mountains of data on me.
“I’m also angry at myself for not having even thought of the possibility I could lose my Google account with everything in it and accounts linked through Google,” he added. “Apparently I’m not alone in this blind faith though. Hopefully that changes.”
I got my first rude awakening about censorship when I wrote an email to a friend in Germany. I was using Yahoo mail as a backup. For many years I traded occasional emails about classical music and culture with him. This time I typed an email concerning the corona virus and I expressed some doubt about what our ‘authorities’ had been asserting. I sent the email and a few minutes later it got kicked back to me by Yahoo. They said my mail had been censored for spreading ‘misinformation.’ That’s hard core censorship. It was as if the Post Office had opened my private mail, and returned it as undeliverable because the post master didn’t agree with my opinion. Shortly thereafter, Yahoo banned all commentary to their news stories. I often skipped their biased stories and went straight to the comments. Most of the commenters were onto the bias. So what did Yahoo do? They simply shut everyone up.