An increasing number of people understand that everybody wants their data, and that there's only one way to stop mass surveillance: by using privacy-friendly tools, best with built-in encryption. With privacy-friendly tools growing in number and in quality, more and more people are starting to protect their personal data by leaving Gmail and Facebook behind.
Even Google now understands that more people want to protect their private data. Google now promises not to scan your emails, however, this might very well be just a marketing initiative, which would give us even more reason to quit Gmail. Everybody knows that Google is still able to scan your entire Gmail inbox. The no-scan policy might end like Gmail's end-to-end encryption project has ended: in limbo.
Quit Google, Facebook & Co. with these alternatives:
Switch from Gmail to Tutanota
For the most private alternative, switch from Gmail to our encrypted, secure email service. The entire Tutanota mailbox is end-to-end encrypted so that it is fully protected from snooping eyes. Even we as the developers can not read your emails.
You can automatically send end-to-end encrypted emails, too, so that you can be sure that only you and the intended recipient can read your emails. Because of the encryption, Tutanota cannot harvest your data for advertisements, in fact, there are no advertisements at all in Tutanota.
On top of the built-in encryption, Tutanota
- lets you register an anonymous email account without asking for a phone number.
- uses state-of-the-art SSL protection, supporting DNSSEC, DANE, DMARC, DKIM, PFS & STARTTLS.
- receives an A+ rating on Securityheaders.io.
- is the best open source email alternative to Gmail with its Android app published on F-Droid.
- lets you use 2FA with U2F and TOTP. We recommend using U2F with a hardware token or TOTP with the open-source two-factor authentication app andOTP from F-Droid.
Quit using Google Search, try Searx.me and Ecosia
Google search is widely used because in the past it was the only one giving reliable results quickly. However, privacy-friendly search engines have caught up over the past few years, and there is no reason at all not to favor those. We recommend trying the open source alternative Searx.me and Ecosia, a search engine that plants trees.
Switch from Chrome to Brave, Firefox, or Tor Browser
Today there are several browsers that give you much more privacy protection than Google Chrome. Brave is an open source browser that automatically blocks ads and trackers. Firefox is a well-established browser known for respecting user's privacy. If you need extra anonymity when browsing online, we recommend the Tor browser.
Quit Google Drive, try Tresorit
When using Google Drive, one must know that all files are stored unencrypted on Google servers. Everyone gaining access to these servers can easily copy and read those files. An encrypted alternative is Tresorit. The paid service offers end-to-end encrypted file sharing and sync. You can store your files securely encrypted in the cloud without the threat of anyone else accessing or reading your files without your permission.
Watch Videos on Vimeo, not YouTube
A great alternative to YouTube is Vimeo. If the video you are looking for is not on Vimeo, you can search and watch YouTube videos on DuckDuckGo via YouTube's "youtube-nocookie" domain. While not entirely leaving Google here, this gives you better privacy protection.
If you absolutely want to watch a video on YouTube, we recommend watching it via Invidio or via NewPipe, which is an awesome Android app that is available on F-Droid.
Use OpenStreetMap instead of Google Maps
OpenStreetMap is a great alternative to Google Maps when looking up places online. It's an open source project with the aim to create a free editable map of the world. You can get the OsmAnd app on F-Droid.
Quit Google Play, get your apps from F-Droid
In case you are using an Android phone, it is a bit harder to fully get rid of Google. In a first step, you should get all your apps from F-Droid instead of Google Play. F-Droid is a great alternative, especially for open source enthusiasts. By getting your apps from F-Droid you can be sure that they come without any ties to Google.
If we've missed any important Android apps, let us know in comments!
Change your Android system to LineageOS
In case you are using an Android phone and fully want to get rid of any ties to Google, we recommend that you install LineageOS as the operating system on your phone. LineageOS is a version of Android which you can use without a Google account. LineageOS is the most popular fork of the discontinued CyanogenMod project.
When you want to get a new smartphone, take a look at the Purism 5. It is a Google-free phone that focuses on privacy and security.
Quit Facebook, use Mastodon
Edit 2018-04-04: Due to the recent Facebook scandal, we felt the need to update this post and add privacy-friendly social media alternatives.
The business model of most social media sites is like Google's based on tracking and posting targeted advertisements. Therefore, we recommend that you quit using Facebook for sharing your private information with your friends. A great alternative is Mastodon, and we invite you to join us there, or Diaspora.
Use Tor or a VPN
When using the Internet your Internet Service Provider can see, monitor and log every website you visit. If you want to make sure that your browsing history remains private, we recommend that you protect it by using Tor or a VPN like Private Internet Access.
Quit surveillance services today, change the Internet of the future!
We all know that mass surveillance is always present when we are online. Yet, each one of us can help to make online surveillance harder. One major step to achieve this is to start using privacy-friendly services - if possible with built-in encryption!
Make the switch today, and you'll find that taking back your privacy is much easier than expected.
Recommended for further reading: Data Privacy Day: Why privacy matters and why it is time to fight for it.