Living in a surveillance state

Because of time constraints it has been a long time since I wrote something here. However, this is something I want to share with as many people as possible now: Mikko Hypponen’s talk titled “Living in a surveillance state”, last week at TEDxBrussels . If you think that you don’t have to fear the spying by the NSA, GCHQ and other state services because you have nothing to hide, or you are wondering what we can do against it, then you should definitely watch this. “Open source” is the key answer to the latter question by the way.

These are 20 very well spent minutes of your time.

Replacing Google

The last few weeks, Google is getting some very negative attention. Google’s privacy policy, its total domination and its lack of collaboration with the Open Source community are raising some questions:

Do we really want this, depending on one single company for so many features? Do we accept that one single company knows so much information about millions of users all over the world? Do we accept that a company creates more and more features, officially because they want to help the world, but which in reality give them more sources for collecting private data and thus more power? For me the answer to these questions is definitely no.

For this reason, I will not install Chromium on my or anyone other’s computer. I strongly recommend people to use another browser, such as Firefox or one of the many webkit browsers in Linux, which are making great progress now, such as Epiphany, Midori or Arora. For similar reasons, you do not want to use Chrome OS: it basically does not add anything to a standard Linux distribution. Quite on the contrary, there is not much more than just the Chrome browser which is installed, so it forces you to use all of Google’s online services to get anything done. I recommend Moblin as an alternative operating system on netbooks.

I had some kind of "trash" GMail account which I used for some mailing list. I have unsubscribed from those mailing lists and evenually I will resubscribe with the e-mail address of my ISP or a GMX FreeMail account. Or I will just read those lists online or with a news reader via GMane.

As default search engine, I currently switched to Ask.com. In some corner cases, it is lacking a bit compared to Google, but the majority of searches yield good results, so it is perfectly fine as default search engine for me. Be sure to enable AskEraser for a privacy level much better than what you get with Google.