Most of us are concerned about our privacy these days, but unfortunately, we can’t do anything to protect it. It is difficult to understand and complex to implement. People like Edward Snowden and others have done a great job of creating awareness. It took years though. Still, a lot of work is yet to be done. However, the question for this article is focused on how to get rid of Google Account, which is the biggest threat to privacy.
But, the biggest question is:
Is it even possible to protect our privacy online, especially for a normal human being?
For a person like me, the answer is YES. It is possible to protect 100% of your privacy online. But, it requires effort in being vigilant all the time. It requires you to use a few tools (sometimes too many).
For most people, it is not that easy, which includes my 16 years old son, my spouse, and my parents.
Unlike anti-visrus software, there there is no “install-it-and-forget-it” tools available for Privacy Protection.
I’m sure someone must be working on it, something exactly like anti-virus software.
But the truth is that viruses were bad things. No one was getting any benefit from viruses other than bad people. So, all the good people supported the development and advancement of anti-virus software.
It is a different story in the case of online privacy. Only whistle-blowers, activists, and privacy advocates are fighting for online privacy. Big giant companies don’t want it to be successful. It impacts their bread & butter business.
How many of us even know and understand that
- Google is NOT a Search Engine Company
- Facebook is NOT a social media platform
At least, not anymore. They have become advertising conglomerates now.
At a very high level, as a normal human being, you can address half of your privacy concerns by doing at least the following:
- Stop using Google Chrome, and start using the Brave browser.
- I know and understand that it is not possible to stop using every Google product, but you should try it. If I can, then you too can get rid of everything Google. We will talk about this in detail in a while.
- Install an adblocker extension in your browser. If you use Brave, then you don’t even need that.
- Block any 3rd party cookies. It’s a one-click setting in the Brave browser.
- Block any device fingerprinting in your browser. It’s a one-click setting in the Brave browser.
If you want to go further, then we need to deal with the following in the order of importance and criticality and stop using:
- All products of Google or it’s parent company Alphabet.
- Android-based Phones. So, your only option is the iPhone.
- Microsoft. See if you can use Linux instead of macOS, Windows, or Chromebooks.
The list can on and on, but let us keep ourselves focused. I know that what I have highlighted above is far fetched dream and unachievable for a normal human being. So, I’m not going to ask you to do that.
We need to understand that there is a huge difference between the first 2 companies and the last 4 companies on this list.
The biggest problem with Google and Facebook is that they are advertising companies. The core of their revenue generation model is advertisements. They don’t have any product or service to sell. Even if they build any product or service, their goal is to aid their advertising business. So, they never stop collecting your information. The hunger for collecting your information is growing every day.
We can still think of living with other companies. Because their core revenue generation is through selling the products or services.
Most of us might not even know the list of products owned by Google or its parent company Alphabet.
What Information Google Collects about YOU
Log in to your Google account and go to the link https://myaccount.google.com/dashboard
Also, try downloading your Google Data using the link https://takeout.google.com/
This link will also list down all the Goole Products. You will have a shock of your life, once you extract the zip file of downloaded data and go through every folder.
If you want to protect your online privacy, then you should start with Google first. If you can get rid of everything Google, then cleaning up the rest of your digital life will be a lot easier.
So, this topic is so vast, we can’t cover everything here. Also, to keep it simple for an average reader, we will not use Tail OS or root our mobile phones or mobile devices.
Let us just start with Google, for now. If you want to start getting rid of Google, then below are your options. Each category below has more than one option available. But I have recommended only the best, based on the ease-of-use from the perspective of the common public.
Disclaimer: None of the links are affiliate links and I’m not associated with any of these products or services. The recommendations provided below are completely based on personal use and experience over a period.
Start with https://protonmail.com/ and move everything to your new email id slowing. Sometimes, ProtonMail-based email ids are not accepted everywhere. So you may need another email id e.g. Outlook or iCloud (preferred). It might take at least 3 months before you can remove the dependency on Gmail over time. Believe me. I have been there and done that. It will not happen overnight.
If you don’t like the ProtonMail interface, use iCloud or Outlook instead. iCloud and Outlook are not great choices, but they are a better option compared to Gmail.
Yahoo has lost its credibility after many data breaches in the past. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-37447016
Because you are too familiar with the user interface of Gmail, it will be a pain to learn another emailing software. But it will be worth it.
You can read more on How to Quit Gmail completely.
It is better to use the calendar application from the same company as your email. So go for either ProtonMail, iCloud, or Outlook.
You don’t have any alternative for YouTube. There is not even a single video-content-based website available today, which protects your privacy.
So, you need to delete the YouTube app from your mobile devices and stop using it.
It’s not recommended, but if you can’t live without it because of any reason, use a VPN service (I use PrivateInternetAccess), never log in to YouTube. You can access it in incognito mode so that once you are done watching, cookies are deleted as soon as you close the browser. Never install the YouTube app on your mobile devices.
Google Chrome Browser
Every keystroke on your keyboard is transferred to Google. No matter what, just don’t use it.
Brave is your best bet here. It is a chromium-based browser, so you will not feel the difference. Brave browser has its own set of controversies, but as of today, it is the best browser to protect your privacy.
Get rid of Google Search
It is Google’s main business. I know that Google’s search results are the best. But, I’m sure that DuckDuckGo will not disappoint you. Over time, it has reached a level of maturity where the common public can rely on it.
Get rid of Google Contacts
Export Contacts and import them into iCloud or Outlook.
Get rid of Google Drive
OneDrive or iCloud Drive. Bonus tip: No matter which cloud service you use, you should never use it without BoxCryptor. It will encrypt everything so that even your service provider (i.e. Microsoft or Apple) can’t read your data by any means. You could use BoxCryptor with Google Drive as well, but we intend to get rid of Google.
The idea is that one day you should be able to delete your Google account completely.
Get rid of Google FitBit
In case you don’t know, Fitbit is owned by Google. You were doing fine without these gadgets before. You never needed them. They built these products so that they can extract more information about you. Even then if you want to use these wearable gadgets, use the Apple watch instead.
iPhone users can use Apple Pay. Others, try any other payment method. I don’t own an Android phone, so I can’t comment much unless I research. (maybe, I will update this post later.)
Get rid of Google Photos
After Gmail, this will be your biggest problem. I will write a separate article o how you can transfer your data from Google Photos to any other Photo Service. Apple Photos is an option for iPhone users. For the Andriod phone, there is no decent photo app available, which you can rely on.
I doubt if any iPhone user will be using Google Photos instead of Apple Photos. Anyways, Google has made the transfer of your photos to any other service provider almost impossible or it’s manual, very tedious, and time-consuming process.
The process I had to follow was very painful. So please bear with me on this for now. I will publish a separate article about this very soon.
You can follow the complete guide on how to move away from Google Photos for Good.
Get rid of Google Maps
This is one app no one can live without. Also, there is NO alternative even close to Google Maps. If you are using Waze, then you might want to know that even Waze is owned by Google.
Google Play Store
If you are using an Android phone, then you don’t have a choice. There are workarounds, but they are not meant for normal users like you and me.
The biggest issue here is that if you can’t switch to the iPhone, then you will never be able to get rid of Google. Even if you use an isolated Google Account for your phone, Google will figure out and link everything to your real identity.
- Every smart home product of Google Nest (https://nest.com/)
- Google Chromecast
- Smart Speaker – Google Home
- All the other Google Smart Home Products (https://store.google.com/)
If you already own any of Google’s Physical products, plan to get rid of them over the period.
Frankly speaking, if you are concerned about your online privacy, you cannot or shouldn’t purchase any smart home devices. It’s not just Google, but this includes Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri-like devices as well. Never talk to voice-based devices.
Remove any Face ID or any other Biometric system to lock/unlock your devices. You are better off with passcode-based mechanisms.
I’m a normal human being like you. I want to apologize in advance if I act like a paranoid sometimes (or all the time).
Please note that the article is written keeping regular internet users in mind, who is not running any business, not even a small one as a soloprenuer. If you are involved in any digital marketing services either for your business or for someone else, there is no way for you to get rid of Google.
That’s why I didn’t mention any Google Products related to Digital Marketing such as Google Ads, Google Adsense, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Feed Burner, etc.
PS: In my upcoming articles, I will talk about the detailed guide on moving away from each of these services, including Google Photos and Google Play Store, while you continue using your Andriod phone.