Transparency and Opacity: Personal Tech Usage

Technology use is changing, and needs to continue to change. As more of our life is spent on the internet the more money there is to be made by manipulating what we read, say, and do. This translates into a coercive power that is too significant to allow it to pile up into points of centralization such as tech companies and governments. Privacy is not simply about keeping your life to yourself but is about decentralizing power. The "I have nothing to hide" argument does not account for the fact that the largest transnational corporations the world has ever scene are built on transparent access to your data and opaque access to how it is used. This is the exact opposite of what we should want.

This is starting to change, and incentives need built that make that change self sustaining. In addition, individuals should take simple steps to making there data opaque and the use of their data transparent. To do this, applications need to be end to end encrypted. In this way the servers and companies that support those applications cannot get to your data, even though your data passes by and is saved on those servers in an encrypted format. Only you and any chosen recipients can gain access to the unencrypted data.

Secondly, VPNs should be used to add a layer of anonymity and base level privacy. Further, we need to use browsers and platforms that keep data about our usage locally so that we gain the benefits of personalized experiences while also making sure that it is we who benefit from that personalization. Lastly, we need to consume content anonymously, not only for our own privacy, but also to ensure that our opinions, actions, and content consumption is not unduly influenced. This means using search services that serve the same results to everyone and cannot retain data about you.

My particular implementation of this strategy looks like this:

  1. Browser: Brave
  2. Email: ProtonMail
  3. Text messages: Signal
  4. Cloud storage: ProtonDrive
  5. Notes: Notesnook
  6. VPN: ExpressVPN
  7. Search engine: Brave Search
  8. Password management: LastPass
  9. Physical authentication: YubiKey
  10. Authenticator app: Authy

A few other strategies to keep in mind is to diversify application suppliers. We need to prevent the horizontal monopolization that has occurred where singular companies provide you with a wide range of products that you become dependent on. Also ad blocking technologies and avoiding ad driven product models is important. Ads are not simply an annoyance, they are the dark malincentive that causes social media companies to profit off of our addictions.

Photo by Majkl Velner on Unsplash

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