Whatsapp recently updated its Privacy Policies and asked users to accept it till 8th February 2021.
This polarized the Internet and netizens started flocking to privacy apps.
It’s always good to look for data privacy since we never know how a majority of these companies deal with our data.
Are they using it for making their services better or to show relevant ads or selling data to other companies? We are clueless.
However, there is too much misinformation floating around the web. Let’s discuss some points that I wanted to share.
- Whatsapp has always been tracking you – It’s not that Whatsapp has started tracking you now. It has seemed to be doing it for ages. Have you ever talked about something on Whatsapp and started getting relevant ads on Instagram?
Not just you or me but every keen observer has noticed this and it is not a coincidence.
- Every Internet company tracks you – Not only Facebook or Whatsapp, but every app on your smartphone tracks you. Literally every app and website on the Internet!
The only difference is that tech giants like Facebook and Google have resources and strong algorithms to process that data.
- Whatsapp still has end-to-end encryption – E2E encryption means that no third party or middleman can see your messages. Not even Facebook employees. That’s how E2E technology works.
However, bots can still keep picking up the keywords from your message threads. If you were talking about cars then Whatsapp bots will try to show you Ads based on cars.
- No human gets to see your data – By tracking, it means that bots track your interests and activities. Not a single human is sitting to check your data and no one can do that too. It’s vast.
I work in the AdTech industry. I still prefer to get personalized feed items and Ads because it helped me to grow in my career as well as to get access to relevant products that I would never know.
Check out my dedicated post on this topic: Dealing With Online Ads In A Better Way
I will any day prefer to get gadgets, tools, and courses in my feed and Ads because of my interests. Rather than getting some irrelevant Ads related to cosmetics.
Working in an online industry taught me that privacy is a myth and you gotta deal with it. It’s anyway better to trust a large responsible corporation than an unknown private firm.
However, it is not the case with everyone. Privacy is a highly subjective because its definition changes from person to person.
Some Privacy Apps That Claim Of Not Tracking Your Data
1. DuckDuckGo (Alternative To Google Search)
Google owns more than 98% of the share in search engine market of India.
Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Search Engine Market Share
DuckDuckGo is an American search engine that is heavily working to eradicate Google out due to data tracking. It is one of the most famous names that come under privacy apps.
It earns through sponsored search ads and affiliate links. The search ads on DuckDuckGo are based on the search results page you are viewing.
If you are searching about dog food on DuckDuckGo then you will get Ads about dog food. Meanwhile on Google, you see Ads based on your browsing history, interests and many other things.
I personally used DuckDuckGo in my college days but I switched back to Google because it showed me irrelevant results many times. Since I need to keep researching on the Internet, I use a combination of both.
You can check what works for you.
2. Brave Browser (Alternative To Google Chrome)
Google is not just a search engine. It is an advertising company. It collects your data from all its services and shows you relevant Ads.
Google Chrome is another such product.
Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Browser Market Share
Whatever you do on the Internet is done via Google Chrome. So it technically knows what all you are doing on the Internet. You can use various alternative browsers that do not track your data like Mozilla Firefox, Brave Browser, TOR, and even DuckDuckGo browser.
Brave Browser is a good option to switch because it is based on the Chromium web browser. So, it almost gives you the same experience as Google Chrome.
Most importantly, it is free and open source. Brave browser has made itself a strong brand under privacy apps.
Brave Software is the parent company of Brave browser and it earns through Ads. Users choose to play advertisements to earn money. Later, the advertiser’s money is shared by Brave browser and the users.
3. Signal (Alternative To Whatsapp)
Not many people know this but Signal App is developed by the same person who developed Whatsapp. He is Brian Acton.
According to Brian Acton, it was a mistake to sell Whatsapp to Facebook because he never wanted to make money out of Whatsapp by collecting user data.
He tweeted and publicly appealed people to delete Facebook.
In January 2018, Brian Acton co-founded Signal App with a mission to develop open-source privacy technology that protects free expression and enables secure global communication.
I have been testing it and it looks good so far. There are several privacy focused features like incognito keyboard, blocking unknown senders, blocking screenshots and much more.
It is definitely nice to come up with a solution and alternative that does not track your data.
4. ProtonMail (Alternative To Gmail)
Gmail is so deeply rooted in our lives and profession that it is simply tough to switch in a day.
You might have given your Gmail ID at your workplace, clients, friends and literally everywhere. You must have even logged in using your Gmail account on most of the online platforms.
However, you can definitely start using a secured email account as your secondary email.
ProtonMail is a good platform to secure your data and emails. It won’t track you as per its mission.
It is a free and open source email platform that provides you several features like end-to-end encryption, anonymous emailing and several security based features.
ProtonMail earns from the paid members in exchange of some premium features. There are several plans that give you features like more disk space, custom email, auto-responder and much more.
Basically, businesses that need these premium features funds the company. Common people don’t really need these features so they can carry out the free and secured email experience.
5. iOS Operating System (Alternative To Android)
Apple iPhones run on iOS operating system and there is no way to use it on other smartphones. That means that you need to buy an iPhone.
As I mentioned earlier, Google is an advertising company that is using your data from all the possible services.
Android belongs to Google and it has access to each and every information on your mobile device.
While Android might be having several advantages over iOS, data security and privacy is surely not the part of the deal.
I have explained it better here: Android vs iOS – Which one is better?
In short, if you can afford then you should definitely switch to iOS for privacy concerns. Apple has better data management techniques.
At times even Apple has been caught in some privacy-related concerns.
For instance, The Guardian Report mentioned how Apple apologized for allowing workers to listen to Siri recordings.
Till this report, I thought it’s just bots that listen to us. But ahem! Let’s pretend that you don’t know about this and Apple is a more secure OS.
6. AnySoftKeyboard (Alternative To Gboard Keyboard)
A mobile keyboard is something that can reveal literally everything that you type on your smartphone. That is what, in fact, happening right now.
No. Your passwords are not excluded. Your keyboard does not know whether it is a password or not. It just knows what you type including your passwords and sensitive information.
Do apps on your smartphone monitor what you type? Yes they do. And it’s not just Facebook or Google.
LinkedIn and TikTok have been caught tracing clipboard data. And these are just some handful apps that have been caught doing so. We have no clue about the number of apps involved in such activities.
The Verge Report: LinkedIn says it will stop repeatedly copying iOS clipboard
Forbes Report: Apple Suddenly Catches TikTok Secretly Spying On Millions Of iPhone Users
AnySoftKeyboard can be a good option to replace Google’s Gboard as it is focused on privacy. Moreover, it is an open-source application.
7. NextCloud (Alternative To Google Drive)
I have already created a separate post highlighting the cloud storage services.
Check out | Free Cloud Storage Services For Storing Your Files
NextCloud definitely deserves an honorable mention for being focused on privacy and security.
Although it is not a cloud storage service.
It is a file sharing and a team collaboration platform. But we can definitely consider it under privacy apps.
It allows you to remotely manage all your documents. You can use its calendar, chatting feature, and video conferencing feature.
It’s a bit tricky to install and start using but you will fine several setup tutorials.
Just reminding you that all the free cloud storage services that you use are not entirely reliable for a sensitive date. Free lunch does not exist.
8. ProtonVPN (VPN Service)
It’s almost impossible to neglect VPN services when we are actually talking about privacy apps. Without a virtual private network, it becomes impossible to avoid tracking.
Recommended Post: Incognito, VPN, and TOR Explained
ProtonVPN is an open-source as well as a free VPN service that is focused on privacy. It works on Windows, Android, iOS as well as Ubuntu.
So how does the company earns? It earns through its premium products. They have several products and solutions for enterprises and businesses.
Related Post | Blackberry Business Model
Should I Stop Using Whatsapp After Recent Privacy Policies?
It depends on you. I am no one to influence anyone to refrain from using an App.
However, keep these points in your mind:
- Have you stopped using other Facebook platforms?
I have seen people ranting about Whatsapp on Instagram and Facebook. Does that make any sense?
Even if Whatsapp recently declared that they would be sharing data with its sister companies. But did you quit Instagram and Facebook because they have been openly doing it for a long time?
- Can you quit the smartphone?
Because once you step on the smartphone with an Internet connection, literally every app or website is tracking you.
- A business never sells data to its competitors
Companies collect data for 2 major reasons – either to make their products better else to sell that data to 3rd party companies.
As a business, I will never sell my hard-earned data to my competitors but use it to make my products better. Facebook, being the largest company will probably never sell it either.
Many people suspect that Facebook has always been taking Whatsapp’s user data to make its services better. Now you might ask why did they update the policies so late?
- EU Digital Services Act has recently made the laws stricter in European Nations where no company can afford to track from behind. So Facebook had to make everything clear.
- Recent iOS update exposed all the tracking of Facebook and other tech companies.
- It’s been a while that Facebook was out of controversies after Cambridge Analytica and other data related issues. This was the right time to come out.
Wise Advice Before Using Privacy Apps:
Test out all the apps that don’t track you and make a comparison for yourself. Switch and start using the service that you like more. Even I am doing it.
It’s stupidity to switch just because it is trending on the Internet and your friends are asking to switch for the sake of staying in trend.
Analyse and make your decisions. Stay smart.
PS: Let me know if we should switch to Telegram or Signal app 😉