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New year's resolution: Goodbye gmail


Collecting and correlating data

There was a time when it was cool to have a gmail account. Yes, we knew that they searched the emails folder to show appropriate advertisement and that was sometimes even useful. Gmail would show me adds for similar things or competing products when I was writing emails about problems and products.

Times have changed since then. Google does no longer just display related adds based on matching words. They build your personality profile. They have your name and phone number. They know where you live. The GPS in your android tracks your location and reports it to google.

The gmail login screen is no-longer just a gmail login. It's a google login. They know everything you are looking for while you are logged into gmail. Gmail keeps you logged-in by default even if your close the gmail page. It's an extra step to logout. They even know which pages you are visiting because they supply the adds on those pages and they can correlate it to you while your browser is downloading the advertisement on the page.

In other words it's getting creepy. It is just a matter of correlating all the data google has about you and you are under full supervision all the time.

I am not a criminal, I have nothing to hide

Well, I think it feels uncomfortable to walk around naked even if I have nothing to hide.

Who is watching you? Is it just the google computer? Who is google?

Google is a company and not just one person and one computer. There are many many people that have access to your data. Do you trust them all? Do you know them all? What if there is a "criminal" among those? Could an employee of google or a consultant with google use this data to steal your identity?

Who is using the data? Good morning NSA

You login to a site to authenticate yourself but how is the site authenticating towards you? How do you know it's not compromised? Google is collecting and analyzing all that data (for advertising purposes?) and we know now that the NSA got it too. NSA bureaucrats and NSA system administrators have access to an incredible amount of information.

We should worry a lot if politicians are telling us that we have nothing to worry about.

There is no trust any more when countries that where supposed to be partners and friends are being spied upon and betrayed. It's not about counter terrorism. We know now that it's about foul play to get advantages in negotiations and steal intellectual property.

A free and democratic country should not supervise citizens all the time. We know that dictators and tyrannies use such techniques to keep the population at arms length and it is a shock to see what is going on in the US.

Is there no way out?

I think we have all been too lazy. If we would not login to google and if we would not voluntarily give them access to all our data then it would be a lot harder. If you use google search without ever being logged into a google account then it will be a lot harder to know who you are. They could take a guess but they can't be sure and they will not have all the parts of the puzzle in one place.

I will continue to use the Internet but I will use different services. I am moving to fastmail.fm for email. An Australian company (different laws, different jurisdiction). I will try different search engines and I will never use cloud computing services from a US company.

Diversity is always better, in the real world and in the digital world.

Happy new year!
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