We all know that Google services like YouTube and Gmail are tracking us wherever we go, but is there any way to maintain some semblance of privacy? The answer seems unclear at first sight. However, it’s actually quite easy if you make a few changes in how your use technology every day. These small adjustments, however, might be too much for most people who are already struggling with their digital footprint resulting from social media usage or other online activities such as shopping habits on websites that track users’ browsing history after they’ve left the site (even without completing an entire transaction).
How does Google track us, and why is it a problem?
Logging into any Google platform, like YouTube or Chrome is enough for the company to know everything about you. This includes search history on Gmail, as well as every internet click and website, visited – even those from outside of their own domains! On your mobile device, it’s much worse because not only does this keep track of what apps are being used but also which specific model you’re using, which they claim helps with two-factor authentication. Since it can verify your device using the device identifiers, it can read identities like the IMEI.
There is also an additional risk associated with mobile phones since there is no location privacy on Apple iPhones or Google Android phones. On Androids, the Google IDs are particularly problematic. On top of knowing what you do, your every location is known and attached to your Google ID. Clearly, the Google ID is the company’s greatest privacy problem. Google does not provide its services for free, you should be painfully aware of that. You can use their services for free in exchange for providing them with information about you.
Can we use Google services safely?
The answer is yes, to some services, especially if you can prevent your location from being recorded. But not all services can be used this way. If the Google ID is known, then what you do on Google is known. The simple workaround is that not everything you do needs to utilize a Google ID. Here are some steps to make sure you minimize the Google ID as much as possible.
Let Google know what you want them to know.
This can be achieved by separating your browsing profiles, either by using separate browsers or having one browser with different profiles. I recommend the former. You can utilize either brave browser or a hardened Mozilla Firefox for this. In the first browser, you can log into your Google account and access your Google services. But you should NEVER log in to any other services as Google will easily track you
In the second browser/profile, you should never log into Google. So this browser should never be exposed to a Google ID. Google will be unable to collect information on the second browser because, without a Google ID, there is no permanent identifier it can assign the actions to. Google will still try to match search activities and YouTube activities via the IP address, which is all they will be able to utilize. However, Google prefers a long-term identifier, and it will use identifiers like an IP address only for the short term.
Use Tor or VPNs whenever you can
You can even take this a step higher by using Tor, or a trusted VPN on the second browser will solve the IP identification problem and Google will not be able to collect the information and assign it as belonging to a specific person. In other words, The profiling will fail or will be very limited.
Is it really Worth the effort?
I’m not trying to give you impossible objectives to preserve your privacy. All I’m saying is that you should be aware of what you do and just learn to petition your activities. Since, you know, someone is watching, you come up with a strategy to fight back.
You might ask how Google can hurt you. Well, Google actively controls the search results and messaging that reaches you based on whatever its political agenda is. This is a documented fact that I discuss in several other blogs. So being clear about having your information collected and misused is tantamount to giving up your freedoms. If Google doesn’t know what we’re thinking, it’ll be tough to manipulate us or try to get us to change your opinion to whatever side they want to promote.
The suggested approach is a very simple one. Isolate your politics, religion, medical, queers, or anything that you want to keep private by using a different browser that never sees a Google login. Otherwise, continue life, YouTube, and other internet activities similarly.
Now, if you’re doing these controversial activities on other platforms like Twitter, Zuckbook, Instagram, and so on, then you must understand that Google can also see that if you use the same browser. So I want to emphasize this, do not go to any other site on your browser assigned to Google with Google ID.
You can use a different browser for that, a browser that will never see a Google platform or a Google ID. In my case, I have a third browser for that purpose. You can use other browsers like Safari, Firefox, LibreWolf, or waterFox for this. I’ve talked about this in other blogs, but here we are making sure you understand clearly that all we’re doing is to prevent the Google ID from being recorded on the other browsers.
How about Gmail?
We now understand that the Google ID is tied to platforms that can supply additional information about what you think and what you believe. This is what you must stop Google from collecting this information. Gmail is no exception. Having google read all your emails while at the same time profiling you from other activities search as YouTube and google searches might be a bad idea. A good solution might be to use a completely different Gmail account for YouTube. One that is not used to receiving a real email in any way. The Google ID or Gmail account will not have anything interesting that can be collected.
My other recommendation is to never use Gmail for any serious email conversations beyond junk mail. I would suggest you use a paid email service or privacy-focused email services. I would also tell you to drop the use of Google Drive and Google photos and use something else. Keeping your data separated on different platforms helps prevent profiling.
The Google Ecosystem…
Having all your data and emails under one profile, especially on Google, is particularly dangerous since Google has the ability to read your emails, look at your Google photos and read your Google Docs. So just between these three items, it has a good sense of what you do and what you’re thinking. If you use Google search. You might want to switch to some other search engines. For example, you can use StartPage, which is a Google search proxy. So, you get results that you would get on Google but without anything tied back to your Google ID since everything is anonymized.
What about the phones?
Unfortunately, this is where the tracking happens even more. These devices are almost always logged into a Google ID at the device level. It is almost impossible to separate your Google ID from what you do on a mobile phone. The practical solution to exclude this worry is to switch to degoogled phones, like Carlyx OS or LineageOS phones. Or any of the available degoogled Android open source phone options out there. In the absence of a solution, then I would highly recommend that you be cognizant about what you do on the phone that you know is being watched.
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time. Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe to my newsletter so that you don’t miss in case of any updates