Going Cold Turkey On Google – And why you should quit it too!

Long term readers of Alpha Efficiency know that I’ve been long term Google evangelist. It all changed with their last privacy policy update. I didn’t mind them merging all the data, I mind that they claimed ownership over the information that I share. That made me consider a big push against Google products and services.

As an avid Google junkie for past 4 years, I came to feel too comfortable within their ecosystem: email, search, video… The profound change started when I moved away from Android to iPhone, and completely made a switch from all “Google Hardware”.

I always knew that the threat to my privacy existed. I never was a fool to trust Google completely, but never in million years it crossed my mind that it would happen this soon. That is why my plan to move away from commercial internet started approximately a year ago. But when I finally “woke up” and noticed that the “devil took the joke away” (Serbian expression, meaning that something went too far), I saw that I am caught up in the Google’s web deeper than I thought.

My websites are using Google Analytics. My main browser is Chrome (switching to Safari, as I am writing this). My main search engine for past 7 years is Google. My email is Gmail. I watch videos on YouTube. I am a part of Google Plus. I efficiently ditched Google Calendar with iCal, but it’s more or less the same thing. This list never ends, does it? Nope, it doesn’t. Let’s not mention that I can’t find a suitable replacement for the Google Reader. That one hurts, because that one is actually one of the most important Google Services that I am using.

When you don’t pay money, don’t view yourself as the customer, you are the product. And that needs to change. Your mental to do list, needs to have: “Get off from the Google” checkbox. (You can efficiently replace word Google, with commercial internet services through entirety of this text and you will have the same result)

Why am I moving away from Google, aside from their privacy policy? Well the laws are starting to change and the monstrous CISPA bill is going to pass the congress and senate (I believe it already passed one of these two houses), and that means that all your data on the commercial internet belong to the USA government. This move by the Obama’s omnipotent police state is making a world look like Orwellian 1984.

If you are one of those people who think that I am over reacting, well you are just living in denial. Looking forward to see how you will react once the things you wrote in your emails, end up in court, without prior warrant, and efficiently be used against you. I am not claiming that I am doing anything wrong, nor that I am planning. I am just saying that your privacy needs to be looked exactly as it is. YOUR PRIVACY.

It is your 4th Amendment right, which should be respected. But USA today straded away from this path. On some level, even though I am immigrating Serbian, I still place a lot of value on the Bill of Rights and ideals that USA founding fathers had. If they had 4th Amendment that was supposed to protect your privacy, it was there for a reason. That is what made USA one of the greatest countries on the planet.

So my plan to protect the privacy goes beyond the borders of the USA. First of all, I will rent a server (or build my own), outside of the USA soil. That server is going to handle my emails. That way, you are neither in the commercial web, that is regulated by the CISPA laws, nor you are on the grounds that are within the USA. That way you are efficiently bypassing both obstacles.

Having your own email servers is the only secure way of handling your emails. Maybe it will take you a couple of days to set it up, but there is no other solution to this dangerous privacy breach by governments and corporations alike. Next, instead of using multiple chat engines, you should start using Open Source platforms like IRC. They might be ugly and old, but if the conversation is held on your servers, there is no chance that your communication will be held in any of the CISPA regulated areas.

Who should care about these things?

Apart from the criminals, terrorists and other evil planning individuals, this privacy issue should be of particular interest of young entrepreneurs who are drafting and starting amazing new projects. Do you want Google to has ownership of the information that you are creating? Do you want them to own your potential? Do you want them to be able to salvage your ideas and implement them into their multi billion bureaucratic machinery?

Next on the list, would be the people who are have classified data, and client sensitive information. If your privacy policy with a client states that it is strictly confidential, well, if you are on Gmail (hotmail, yahoo..) you efficiently breached the clients privacy. So bear that in mind. Lawyers and people who’s work contains classified information, simply own their own emailing servers. You should too!

Do you want to wake up in the world, where Google knows EVERYTHING about you? And your government has instant access to all of that data?  I know I don’t want to be a part of that. I believe you don’t want that to happen either.

Your first step

It is quite obvious that it didn’t take that much of a wind, and that it doesn’t mean that much to us. But as we are moving into cyber world deeper and deeper and interloping it with our actual lives, the importance of digital information becomes ever more important. I want you to start considering Google alternatives. And I hope you won’t be in the same problem where your daily income does depend on what Google has to say.

Your first step is to become aware of the things that are coming to happen, by tuning in the series of articles on Alpha Efficiency – Going Cold Turkey on Google.

Conclusion

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe that Google is necessarily evil here. It has information driven business model, and that is the nature of their business. Combination of this type of business model and the newly found regulations are disastrous for your privacy. Simple as that. If you keep feeding into that system, you are willingly renouncing your constitutional rights in the upcoming digital world.

Don’t say you weren’t warned on time. :)

About Bojan
Bojan is internet marketing professional with a passion for all things productive. You can invite him for a Hangout on Google+ and follow him on Twitter or App.net.

Comments

  1. I never saw myself as a customer or a product. I merged a long time ago with my google. I have since forgotten my name and keep it in my account to look it up if needed. So don’t leave me in here alone! 
    :P Ok, sorry! A very good read and something to think of in class today.

    • I am glad it got you thinking. Just finished reading an article on LifeHacker about CISPA. It confirmed my suspicion.

      In the end all the smart people will know how to protect themselves on the internet, while dumb folks, and those who don’t have a clue will be casualties and sheep…

  2. You’re dipping your toe into a deep pool of controversy and politics here, so I’m interested to see where you go with it!
    When I go to London I’m caught on hundreds of CCTVs simply getting from A to B on the Tube…I have to seriously wonder whether there is a realistic chance of maintaining the boundaries of personal privacy in today’s technology age.
    I think you’ve started your debate with some very well articulated points – I’d be interested to know what alternatives you recommend we take to achieve our Google ‘cold turkey’ as someone with all the services you’ve listed (Gmail, Google Reader, Chrome, YouTube, Google Calendar) I can’t currently imagine how I’d achieve it.
    Good provocative post – look forward to the series!

    • Bojan says:

      Really glad it spurred controversy. I keep it at a minimum. Thanks to DuckduckGo, I maintain it at the reasonable level.

  3. braincutlery says:

    I’ve been stewing on your series of articles on this for a week or so, and have formulated a response here: http://wp.me/p2TvFY-43 (“Google isn’t the problem; you are”)

    Hope you don’t mind that this is the second time I’ve posted an article disagreeing with you; I really enjoy how thought-provoking your posts can be and I think your perspective is equally valid!