Smartphones and privacy

  about 929 words   5 min

privacy

Smartphones … they are everywhere !
Almost everyone has one in his pocket and that's not going to stop. More and more institutions use web and mobile apps. Today, even if your company is not in IT, it probably has a team or a department that wil be in charge of the branding online, your web or mobile app. Everything in our world is interconnected and computers are in charge to help you accomplish a lot with the goal to gain in productivity.

Here in France, banks, but probably all banks abroad, are slowly forcing people towards mobile apps where a lot of tracking is done. How ? They offer more services in their mobile app than the web one. Usually this one is buggy or doesn't really work well on modern web browsers and the support will tell you you to use something like … Internet Explorer ( 2019 and sadly it's a true story).

The issue that I see with this it's that it forces you spend more to be able to just check your bank account by example. How ? Smartphones! I'm 100% sure that their app will not work on your old Nokia. But all these shiny phones are uber expensive ! Latest iPhone or Samsung phones are a real amount even for people who have decent jobs. Who wants to pay over 1000 ($/€) for a device that wil spy every move you make on a daily basis? Spoiler alert : a lot of people actually do !

The feeling I have is that we move slowly from our computers / laptops to tablets / phones. A lot of people don't own a computer because they don't have that need anymore. They have everything they need in the palm of their hands.

An other concern is how do you train older folks to use all these new technology ? When I see some friends around me that have spent their youth with the birth of the world wide web and the fact they struggle to send an email (OK actually I may be a little bit mean to them but that's a reality) I don't see them keeping pace with all these new objects that will be part of our life. What about elder people then ?

On top of that, my worry is, even if they get to use all these new toys, how do we secure them without throwing all our private life to some companies that will make OUR profiles THEIR revenue ?

Here is a little list about things that I've done to try to have at least some privacy.

The switch to Android

I don't use iPhones anymore. I stopped to use them when Oneplus launched its first phone back in 2014.

I was never a big fan of Samsung or other android phones because they add a lot of custommization layers making the layout odd or quite unusable. I adopted Oneplus since their first release. The frustration around it was real because to be able to buy one you had to be invited. Their “invitation” system was smart. It used a known marketing technique to get customers frustrated and left outside of the “club”.

But since my switch in 2014, I keep using their devices and I'm quite happy with what it delivers to its customers. The only disappointment I have is the price. Even if their product is less expensive than its competitors, they haven't kept a low price as they did with their first two models. It would be nice to have a high end first class product and maybe a cheaper one for little budget.

The first Oneplus was really a phone that I loved a lot. It used Cyanogen with a lot of security features that weren't available on other phones.

Just below an ad for the the first model :

Oneplus One

I don't trust the default Android rom that's why I installed /e/ on my last Oneplus, an android rom based on LineageOs, that comes without Google apps. It's quite easy to install for someone with little computers skills. They even started to sell some phones with /e/ preinstalled and there is also a service to send your phone and get an installation if you don't feel confident about doing yourself.

I installed also DNSfilter that keeps a list of GAFAM and trackers URLs and resolv them to your phone localhost. That way if an app wants to send some data to Facebook or other “partners” all their request will timeout and never gets out of your phone.

Apps that I use on my phone

There are two apps repositories that I use on my phone :

  • fdroid that has a lot of free and ethical apps
  • Aurora for some banking apps and other ones not available on fdroid

Notes

Bookmarks

Cloud services

SMS / Chat

  • Signal
  • Silence
  • Riot.im
  • Telegram
  • Mattermost

Email

I use the one that comes with /e/ for two email addresses I have. I usually prefer to read them in my terminal with mutt.

Web browsers

  • Firefox focus
  • Duckduckgo

Social networks

Podcast

  • AntennePod

Music

I ditched Spotify and I'm using now the Dsub app to stream music from a Funkwhale instance.

Youtube

There is the Newpipe app that is just a frontend without all the trackers that comes with Youtube. And the latest version supports also peertube instances.


android tools privacy oneplus
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