Want more privacy online? These services aren’t built around selling your data


We are all surrounded by online services, mobile apps, and our internet service providers, all of which can have deep access to our personal data. In a market landscape where personal data privacy can be hard to find, there are some options you can take to help keep your digital life a bit more private.

You’ve probably heard what has now become something of an internet maxim about free services: you’re not the customer, you’re the product. It’s been said so many times and so many ways since as early as the ’70s, per Quote Investigator, and it applies just as much to the internet landscape today as it did to TV when it was first uttered.

Many of us have free email services, free messaging apps, free office suites, and a half-dozen free social media accounts. And, in many cases, our data on those services can be used in ways we might not like. Some of it may be used to lump us into categories for targeted advertising. Some of it might end up in the hands of the next Cambridge Analytica, which accessed data on tens of millions of Facebook users that was then used in targeted political advertising, per Slate.

If you want to free yourself from all this digital surveillance, there are alternative services you can turn to. Many of these more privacy-friendly services have a few things in common that you should look out for. If a product is open source, its code is open for inspection, so you don’t have to worry so much about sneaky means of the developer intruding on your privacy. It doesn’t hurt if a company is based in a country with strict privacy and consumer protection policies either. End-to-end encryption in messaging apps and VPNs is solid feature for ensuring data is concealed as it travels along the internet. And, you might have to pay a little bit for the services, as they won’t be making money by selling your data, though there are some free applications and base tiers of service floating around.

For a private search engine, you can turn to DuckDuckGo. To keep your email and internet connection private, ProtonMail and ProtonVPN offer affordable packages and basic service for free, and Proton publishes its code openly. You can even trade out your browser for the privacy-focused Tor browser or the open-source Falkon or Midori browsers. For complete office software suites, OpenOffice and LibreOffice are free and open-source alternatives. For messaging, you can turn to the open-source Signal app or the security-minded Telegram app. You can find services like these and plenty more through Ethical.net’s guide.

So, if you want to keep your data secure, be sure to check out these services.

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