In a failed attempt to improve users personal privacy, DuckDuckGo jumps from the frying pan straight into the fire. With the motto
Remove Google from your life? Yes, it can be done!
they give ten advices, most of them very bad. Also, they are using inexact wording by calling things free, when they are "free as in beer", but not necessarily "free as in freedom". I comment on their three worst recommendations:
Google Search -> DuckDuckGo (free)
Let's start off with the easiest one! Switching to DuckDuckGo not only keeps your searches private but also gives you extra advantages such as our bang shortcuts, handy Instant Answers, and knowing you're not trapped in a filter bubble.
I understand, that they advertise their own service here. And while I do believe, that DuckDuckGo does not cheat and keeps your searches private, as a user, one cannot prove it. In any case, one just replaces one centralised search machine with another one. Better use a decentralised service, such as meta search engine Searx
Android -> iOS (paid)
The most popular alternative to Android is of course iOS, which offers easy device encryption and encrypted messaging via iMessage by default. We also have tips to increase privacy protection on your iPhone or iPad.
This is certainly the worst recommendation in their list. I had to check the date of the article, when I read this. Aprils Fool's Day? I'm certainly not a fan of Android and I'm not an Android user anymore, but going for a much more restrictive jail is just stupid. Android has at least relatively free versions, e.g. Replicant
. iOS, in contrast, is a carcel with beautifully painted walls. Very high walls with perfectly styled barbed wire on top. Even the most proprietary variants of Android let you at least install free software from F-Droid.org
If you don't want to use Android anymore, like myself, better go for a free alternative, e.g. support the Librem 5 crowdfunding
, or the Pyra handheld
or the ZeroPhone
, all three running the free Debian operating system
Google Allo -> Signal (free)
There are several services offering private messaging but, as we've mentioned before, Signal gets our recommendation. It offers free, end-to-end encryption for both messages and private calls. It's also recommended by Edward Snowden and renowned security expert Bruce Schneier, among others.
Again, they recommend to leave one centralised service for another one. And one, that even wants your phone number, otherwise you can't use it. And one, that does not yet have a decent client for Linux. There are messengers around that are federated or completely decentralised, that do not force you give them your phone number, and that have native clients for all major operating systems. My recommendation is XMPP
. If you are on Linux, use e.g. Gajim
, on Android the best app is probably Conversations
, for iOS there is ChatSecure
and so on. Alternatives to XMPP are Ring, Matrix and more recently Wire.
Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1755:
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
One should also not give up libre software, which is essential in many ways, to purchase a little perceived safety or privacy through non-free or centralised services.
Google tracking is more pervasive than most people realize. We show you some alternatives to Google services to limit your exposure.