I Cut Google Out Of My Life. It Screwed Up Everything


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Steven P.

Thought I'd share this article I read just now, it reveals some harsh truths about monopolistic companies we like to think we can have some sort of control over if they rule our lives or not, turns out we can hardly do without Google in the digital world.

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Long ago, Google made the mistake of adopting the motto, “Don’t be evil,” in a jab at competitors who exploited their users. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has since demoted the phrase in its corporate code of conduct presumably because of how hard it is to live up to it. 

 

Google is no stranger to scandals, but 2018 was a banner year. It covered up the potential data exposure of a half million people who probably forgot they were still using Google+. It got caught trying to build a censored search engine for China. Its own employees resigned to protest Google helping the Pentagon build artificial intelligence. Thousands more employees walked out over the company paying exorbitant exit packages to executives accused of sexual misconduct. And privacy critics decried Google’s insatiable appetite for data, from capturing location information in unexpected ways—a practice Google changed when exposed—to capturing credit card transactions—a practice Google has not changed and actually seems proud of.

 

I’m saying goodbye to all that this week. As part of an experiment to live without the tech giants, I’m cutting Google from my life both by abandoning its products and by preventing myself, technologically, from interacting with the company in any way. Engineer Dhruv Mehrotra built a virtual private network, or VPN, for me that prevents my phone, computers, and smart devices from communicating with the 8,699,648 IP addresses controlled by Google. This will cause some huge headaches for me: The company has created countless genuinely useful products, some that we use intentionally and some invisibly. The trade-off? Google tracks us everywhere.

https://gizmodo.com/i-cut-google-out-of-my-life-it-screwed-up-everything-1830565500

 

I haven't read the other parts yet because this popped up on my Google Now feed (heh ironic) but it is kind of scary the reach that Google has into our lives and services we use that we think aren't related to Google.

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+InsaneNutter

The article certainly does give some food for thought.

 

In some ways i'd manage better than the author without Google as I use my own domain for email. So am free to use whoever I want to host / sync my email, calendar, contacts and reminders, having the ability to change whenever I like.

 

An inconvenience would be Maps and Search, good options besides Google are limited. Bing Maps is actually pretty good in the UK with the "birds eye" view mode, however Google Street View is incredible useful. As is the Maps app on Android.

 

Where I would fail is using Android without Google Services, Android without Google is not great.

 

I don't actually use that many Google Apps, however many other apps I do use use need Google Play Services, which is essentially giving Google root on your phone. Then certain other apps need your device to pass Google's safteynet for DRM purposes.

 

I guess the only real alternative there is to spend double / triple the cost of my current phone and buy an iPhone.

 

At the end of the day even if you some how do manage to remove Google from your life your still been tracked by many other entities. I imagine my journey to work is pretty much 95% covered by CCTV, then when I get to work i'm pretty much on CCTV walking to any other part of the building outside my office, the toilet and the kitchen.

 

The UK government probably has a database of everywhere i've ever been with my mobile phone, it's pretty much a given the GCHQ & NAS are data mining everyone internet traffic in the UK also.

 

It's almost impossible to live in the modern world without some other entity doing all the surveillance they don't like Google doing. I guess that's the price of living in the modern world.

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adrynalyne

If only there were more companies offering alternatives to Google’s services. A voluntary monopoly on this stuff is unfortunate and hurts consumers too. Not unlike mainstream OSes...

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Jason S.

the article mentions that google has 8 million addresses, but that's just IPv4. They own trillions of IPv6 addresses, so you'll never be able to block those...

 

edit: my point being, even if you dont have IPv6 at home or work, your LTE phone has IPv6. Everytime you visit a website it's most likely going to ping a google analytics site or something. you cant avoid it at all.

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zhangm

I'm not sure there is really a way to have interconnected services without basically committing to the promises of whatever company hosts said services to not "be evil". There's a bunch of great stuff that Google offers in exchange for entering their ecosystem, and it (or similar ecosystems) gain value and usefulness from the number of users pitching in with their data, e.g. traffic reports on maps, shared calendars, and shopping recommendations.

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