China — heard about China in these recent days?
The app bans and censoring websites of Chinese origin under the so called name of national security and safeguarding the privacy of fellow Indian citizens? Geopolitics reigns: the real issue of data-protection & privacy is not going to be talked about. While I think: we should not use apps that collect this much data. I would never bar someone or ban/censor apps. You’ve got to respect net-neutrality — censorship is dumping fuel to the fire!
For example: the Indian government here surveils it’s citizens
It collects their biometric data like fingerprints, iris scans & other data about you. Then they authorize a 12 digit UID number for anyone in India, which is linked to everything you do. For a new phone number, tax payments, ticket booking, exam registration, bank account, vaccine enrollment, whatever needs identification. It’s called the Aadhaar card. Outrageous, if you’re someone reading this outside India. Like I say always “data once collected can & will-be abused”.
Ironically the Government relies on American services and $BigTech giants like FAANG
Almost everyone here: using a phone has a gmail or Google account. YouTube? no doubt, everyone has YouTube on their phone too!. There’s also the craze for bagging high-paying jobs at FAANG. You’d often hear about XYZ IITian bags record 2 Cr Salary at Google, Microsoft or some other $BigTech company.
A huge source of revenue & income into the country
Taxes and remittances into pockets of family joint NRI bank accounts. I certainly don’t have a problem about bagging well-paying jobs, you should have financial freedom! Who doesn’t?
You can only argue about the means: is this blood money? If you’re reading this as someone working in FAANG ~ how do you feel about your role developing non-free software, for example DRM that harms and divides users. I surely don’t feel like contributing to proprietary garbage like DRM.
Google, Apple, Facebook (Instagram & WhatsApp), Amazon & Microsoft don’t face the ban hammer because of their countless privacy violations
The Indian government has no problem with the American government spying on us. While they have problems when their Chinese counterparts do. India does not have strong data protection laws yet; These companies often partner with the political parties or influential companies to keep their market share. For example Xiaomi phones have WhatsApp or Facebook pre-installed. Bumping up marketshare on Google Play Store.
Big Brother is literally listening to you
Try this one out now: an IoT device nearby is listening for phrases 24/7 like: “Ok Google”, “Hey Siri”, “Alexa”.
Okay, but I don’t use these services — Obviously, one can’t be always be sure, whether there’s an IoT device nearby. What about visiting new locations? Your friend’s house? a school? cafe? — how can you be sure that no one’s phone is listening to you? You can only self-censor and not talk about personal details in public.
Microsoft partners with schools to trap children in using their proprietary platform and don’t show exposure to better, alternative solutions
It goes deep down the rabbit hole having numbing effects for the use of libre (freedom respecting) software and far better ecosystems often cheaper than their proprietary counterparts.
FACEBOOK alone earned $75Billion in the past 12 months
June 30, 2020: a 20.05% increase YoY in ad revenue selling your data and you spending time watching very relevant ads on WhatsApp and Instagram.
This is just FACEBOOK, 1 out of the big 5 tech companies.
Guess what? — You get paid nothing, this is status quo More the people in their platform, more customers to sell ads to and they intern bring more profit.
The price of petrol topped at ₹84/L recently. Remember Reliance the big oil company now it’s Jio. Data is valued more than oil, and everyone’s fighting to get your spot because that’s how these companies work.
Even right now. Microsoft, Google, Apple with the other big 5 partners with the American surveillance programs called the PRISM to give direct access to your account. Edward Snowden a whistle blower exposed this 2013. Even though you may live in India the companies you sign up for are under American Jurisdiction or partner with the 5 eyes surveillance states.
A really lucky ecosystem for companies and governments as they push to colonize every budding internet market including India we will lose our digital-sovereignty
The majority of people don’t bother to switch from proprietary spyware shipped by default on our laptops and phones and continue to use user subjugating operating systems. Your Laptop ships with Windows / MacOS and belongs to Apple and Microsoft not you. You just rent it from them. Even after you pay for the hardware.
They can control everything, you loose your freedom because they run nonfree software. Designed to keep the developers in charge of the very computer you think you own
Explaining the importance of privacy is like explaining climate change
Except, it’s not animals who’s suffering it’s you. You reap what you sow. I’ll assure you that you’d have to pay more for your rent, taxes, if you ignore the importance of privacy. Let’s take a real life example: in China people are recognized by their faces and are ranked — its called the social credit system and they don’t have access to the ‘outside world’.
What about China?
Test it out now they don’t have YouTube, Google, Twitter, and other things we take for granted. Instead they’re in their own cocoon and anyone who speaks out gets suppressed. We’re seeing this in Hong Kong and recently ~ Belarus, where protesters hide from CCTVs using umbrellas, using encrypted messaging apps like Signal and Telegram.
They’re ahead of the curve, we’re seeing the effects now
While we take this for granted back here. Here’s something to think about as India censored apps on one side and allows privacy breaching companies on the other. While Facebook and Jio tie up together and garner market share by selling products like amazon through Jio Mart in WhatsApp, that’s a huge market, 400 Million users in India alone.
These apps don’t respect the user’s freedoms: like the British who visited India and saw it as a mere-colony to exploit. Switch from surveillance. Don’t use Google: if you do use only the tools which are free/libre so you can tweak it to not-spy on you — like Chromium or AOSP
- Switch to privacy focused messaging platforms like Element (Matrix), Telegram and Signal and use them for different purposes each (use disappearing messages whenever you can)
- Use a different search engine like DuckDuckGo or SearX
- Don’t ever ever give your password or pass phrase and keep diverse passwords and store them using a password manager like Bitwarden
- Use hardened Firefox or Brave over Google Chrome
- continue reading ~/blog/how-i-do-my-computing
I don’t have anything to hide so why should I care?
Why do we have a lock screen or password on our Phones. Why do we have locks in our houses why not let anyone look and hear what we do in our homes. Curtains in our rooms
Give me your password and username to any & all of your online-accounts as I please. Let me archive and data-mine: what I like. I’ll publish findings publically, since you have nothing to hide right?*
Privacy is an integral instinct we developed through generations and is as ever as important today than ever before.