484: Tech Adventures; Tampering With The Mail Is A Federal Crime

I haven’t had a facebook account since 2019, and has nothing to do with Mark Zuckerberg’s punchable face. I didn’t delete my account for ideological reasons either. I just couldn’t handle the constant mental and emotional drain. Honestly, I’ve never looked back. My life is much better without Facebook than it was with it.

Like Facebook, Google makes most of its money from data collection and advertising. For me, and I think for most people in the western world, it’s much more difficult to live without Google than Facebook.

Google runs a search engine, email system, YouTube, and the operating system for the majority of smartphones. Google uses all of these services to collect data which it then feeds to the advertising side of its business. Advertising is the real cash cow.

For many people, Google forms the basis of the internet. Google lets you use their services in return for finding out everything about you, and selling that information to greedy advertisers. (Look, we’re all a little greedy. I don’t mean to single out advertisers, but it’s such a good adjective.)

But is there another way of doing things?

Maybe. One of the most fundamental services that Google provides is email. I’ve used Gmail for years, and have generally found it to be a good product. Google claims that it doesn’t actually read email inboxes anymore, it just sells their content to anyone who wants it. Email is basically mail that is sent electronically, that’s where the name comes from. If you work for the Post Office, and knowingly let anyone besides the recipient take a peek inside a letter you can wind up in prison for five years. If Google played by the same rules as the Post Office someone would be getting a lot of jail time.

Google doesn’t charge for their email services, but knowledge gleaned from your inbox helps them target advertising, and companies are willing to pay good money for that advertising. This gives them an unfair competitive advantage to the Post Office, since the user has to pay upfront for the service of sending physical mail.

I’m not going to endorse any particular service, but there are other email services which offer a comparable product to Gmail. It doesn’t take a technical wizard to forward emails, so that if anything does land in your Gmail inbox it will get forwarded to your new account.

For many people, the Chrome Web Browser serves as a portal to the internet. Chrome operates just like most other Google services, turning a profit off of harvesting and selling personal data. I’ve used a lot of different web browsers, and as far as functionality is concerned Chrome is pretty good. But it’s not the best.

The Brave web browser is the future of the internet. Use it and you’ll never go back. Seriously. Brave does not allow third part apps to track user data, and gives you sweet moola for looking at ads. It also uses the DuckDuckGo search engine, which is similar to the Google search engine, but more private, and less Google.

So that’s that. A few simple tips, and no more Google

Oh yeah, smartphones.


Photo by Roman Koval on Pexels.com

22 thoughts on “484: Tech Adventures; Tampering With The Mail Is A Federal Crime

  1. Thanks for putting this info out there. I think it’s one thing to know about it in bits and pieces but another thing to see it in a format like this. Definitely will be looking into Brave browser and Duck Duck Go has been a winner for a while now. As far Farcebook goes, my wife and I got sick of it in 2009 or 2010, I don’t remember exactly. We’ve never been sorry.

  2. I use Duckduckgo – and have since changed to Brave on your recommendation a couple of weeks back. Was on Facebook for two weeks a few years ago and didn’t realize that everyone was reading my postings (e.g. “loved the photos of your brother’s wedding”). So I quit and still don’t know how it works.
    Am going to leave Brave behind soon I think as the right click to find “Source” of a website doesn’t let you edit it in Notepad – which is what I use for editing html. It can do it but it’s a very roundabout process. No better at it than others but I keep going back to Internet Explorer – whatever is the now defunct version. I write 90% of everything in html and they want you to conform to their own formats – which is why everything online now looks the same. Was on gmail briefly as well – but dumped them but they still know the number of times I take a pee in a day. Don’t use Chrome. I think I’m getting real old and dated… I used to be brilliant at all this stuff…

  3. Good advice. Firefox is also allegedly better for privacy. If you aren’t already familiar with browser fingerprinting and device fingerprinting, you may want to look into those as well. Rob Braxman has helpful videos on internet privacy and offers some very doable strategies, such as what he terms “browser isolation”, which is essentially using a dedicated browser when doing stuff with Google, and a different browser for everyday life. Even Brave and Firefox are potentially vulnerable to fingerprinting, but browser isolation defeats it. Of course, if you don’t use a VPN service, then everything you do on the internet, regardless of browser, etc.. is trackable via your IP address, which is like the internet equivalent of your street address.

  4. I’m using Newton for email. It works well for me. I was using icloud and all of my emails simply disappeared. I worked with an Apple tech and they never could fix the glitch. I’ll take a look at Brave.

  5. If you’re interested in email privacy, I recommend that you take a look at ProtonMail. The way it presents emails does (in my opinion) need some work, but the system features both ‘end-to-end’ and ‘zero knowledge’ encryption — not even ProtonMail can read your emails, as they don’t have the encryption key. Essentially, ProtonMail puts all your emails into (secure) envelopes. And a basic account is totally free.

      • Hmm… not sure about that; you’d have to ask ProtonMail (and I would recommend doing so, they’re under pressure but still very responsive to requests for information). But, surely, the ones who would want to charge you for forwarding mail would be those who control the original destination, not the forward address? (Note also that any forwarded email would not be subject to end-to-end encryption, although once it arrives, the final copy — unlike any copies that may be made of it en route — is secure.)

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