If your emails, messages, clicks, likes, and tweets,
are your costs, what then is the price of your privacy?
Trust and Verify
It is naive to expect technology companies to secure your online privacy. Big Tech, and Small too, are incentivised by the advertisement apparatus to cull your online behaviour (“personal data”) and sell to the highest bidder. Who wouldn’t do the same?
“Not me! I’m not like those greedy a…, um, jerks,” you say, sometimes aloud.
When was the last time you:
- • sent a professional message via ‘free’-mail?
- • paid for your messaging app or donated funds to one?
- • announced an event using ‘free’ social media?
- • emailed a personal note from your ‘free’ company or school account?
- • built a website using a ‘free’ site building tool?
Or the big one:
- • visited a website funded by commoditising your personal data? How would you know if you had?
- ◦ Check the TL;DR “Privacy" Statements.
- ◦ And now they have digital fingerprinting too (see EFF’s helpful summary).
The ‘free’ services are convenient, no doubt; but all ‘free’ online products have costs. It’s just not paid with your money. The costs are your:
- • time sifting through spam and setting up filtering routines;
- • talents devising and remembering your latest passwords;
- • productivity by being distracted from focused activity;
- • and, perhaps most important, your privacy.
The providers pay their costs by overtly (the ads you see) and covertly (the cookies/tracking pixels you don’t) collecting and selling personal data to advertisers.
Regardless your understanding or willingness, our personal data are being commoditised at the 2021 rates (see image) of $200 BILLION into the pockets of Google-cum-Alphabet, $115 BILLION for Facebook-cum-Meta, and (only!?!) 4.5 billion to Twitter-cum-Musk (wait, that’s on hold; oh, maybe not now).
Europeans are working to lockdown some privacy, at least for their tech industry while Americans seem nonchalant about such privacy loss.
You can do fairly simple things to secure your personal data. Along with the usual (i.e., password security), we suggest these:
- 1. Email. Begin by paying a few dollars for a quality email provider. Of course, we recommend PPemail.net, but most paid addresses are better than ‘free’-mail ones. (Careful though; some will take your money and sell your data.) Read the privacy statement(s) and assure the company follows best practices for email servers. For highly secure messages, use E2E encrypted services (e.g., ProtonMail).
- 2. Addresses. The days of a single email address are long gone, like one telephone number for the family. We recommend having two and maybe more email addresses, and provide them through PPenet:
- • PRIVATE: for family and personal communication
- • PUBLIC: for general communication
- • EMPLOYMENT: for work and professional contacts
- • JUNK: for organisations you expect will spam
- 3. Files: When you must store files online and occasionally share them, use a service that works as hard securing your privacy as for their profits. We provide PPecloud.net for our clients, built on Nextcloud’s award-winning architecture. But other paid services are good too.
- 4. Contacts. When you enrol in a service, keep your contact lists to yourself. Decline the request to access your contacts. Give only the information necessary for the service. We provide PPecard for a more secure method of sharing your contact info.
Privacy and Profits
Why leave online privacy to those who are incentivised to hold it loosely or paid to distribute it? Use services that value your privacy as much as their profit. We suggest using these privacy-centric services listed on the left and avoid using the ones listed on the right (see image).
You secure your privacy through the daily choices you make. Funny, but perhaps not, many thinkers wrote similarly about freedom and democracy. It’s your privacy, can you keep it?