Real benefits of degoogling?

How do you see, what are the real privacy benefits of degoogling with Iode (or other degoogled roms)?

When you dig in to this topic, you will soon find answers saying that no matter what you do, you will leave fingerprints and get profiled when you are online.

With Iode you send less data and that‘s of course positive. On the other hand, if we are still been profiled, we have to admit, that we have maybe gained some privacy but propably not so much that we first hoped.

What are your thoughts on this? Is privacy something real or more like an illusion even if we use degoogled rom like Iode?

I think using Iode is worth it, because at least i do some efforts towards my values. It’s also nice to know that my data doesn‘t sync to google cloud. Maybe these are the biggest pros. What comes to browsing web, I‘m not so sure, am I any more incognito than before, because fingerprinting.

If you want to leave the google hell, the

  1. you need a ROM without google/gapps → iode
  2. all the rest depends on you how deep you want to dive in the sea of privacy

Thats all

Hi, unfortunately there is no way to avoid browser fingerprinting.
But there are some actions I’m using to limit it (both on mobile and on PC)

  1. use chrome only for google stuff (this applies of course only to PC browsing)
  2. use different browsers for different purposes. In my case I’m using chromium, firefox, brave and duck.
  3. keep your browsers with standard settings and do not install extensions.
  4. when possible browse the Internet via PC and not via mobile phone.
  5. use a VPN to hide your real IP address when connected to wifi

Of course there is a trade-off between privacy and convenience. Finding the right position between them is up to you.

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Privacy doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”, although it can seem that way and be overwhelming when you start out on it, like I am and like you are. You have to start somewhere, and just do the best you can. To echo some of the things @Vincenzo said, for example: use Brave browser or other privacy-focused browser, and change the settings to the most aggressive. Use a VPN. Don’t sign in to Google accounts, Facebook accounts or other notorious actors when online. If you aren’t signed in there’s less data they can collect on you. Use encrypted messaging and email platforms, like Protonmail, Signal, etc. If you want to add in some security on top of your privacy, use strong passwords with a password manager like Bitwarden and 2FA with a non-Google authenticator. Use your phone as little as possible, but do use it for Signal instead of non-encrypted messaging. Use a browser more than phone apps, as the latter are more privacy invasive. And of course, use a deGoogled ROM.

That’s a very good start, but don’t freak out about it, just make small changes gradually and you’ll get there. Also, remember - there’s really no such thing as 100% privacy in this world, either in real life or online, and we shouldn’t really expect it, but we can increase the level of our privacy a great deal.

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Yes, I think the same. Currently, it is very very hard to reach “all” though.

My android setup is something like this: email Fairemail / mailbox.org, youtube Libretube, maps Magic Earth, facebook only via browser, work email (Outlook) only via browser, browser Bromite, Keepass for passwords. Under the hood is Iode.

My PC setup is Linux Mint (No windows).

With with setup I have control over my OS, both on PC and phone. I know that my OS doesn’t snoop on me. That’s a big win, because i know my personal data (docs, photos, etc) is safe.

What comes to my browsing activity, i don’t consider this to be very private either on PC or on phone. Both LibreWolf (pc) and Bromite (phone) try to resist fingerprinting. But nobody knows, is there a browser which can effectivily avoid it. So better to expect that browsing can be tracked. There is also VPN and Tor browser, which give some more options. But Tor browser isn’t good for day to day browsing. Also experts say, VPN isn’t a magic cure for fingerprinting.

Regardless i personally use paid email service mailbox.org, which is privacy oriented, I still send emails to contacts who use gmail. So many times google gets my emails.

To sum it up:

  • My operating systems can be said private. My locally stored data is safe.
  • My browsing activity propably leaks some personal information about me
  • Google still reads many of my emails, because it has so many users, who I am in contact

I would say this is “50/50” privacy (about 50% of complete privacy). I have control over my devices, which is the most important for me. But when I go “out there to internet”, then it’s better to assume I am more or less tracked.

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Online privacy is hard to achieve - but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try (even if most “normal” people will laugh at the idea)
A degoogeled OS is not the be all and end all, but it’s the necessary first step
As others have mentioned, you have to be mindful on what apps you let on your phone and how you configure especially your browser

the thing that gives me hope is that Google reports your presumed location on the bottom of every search - afaik based on fingerprinting
for me, they never get any farther than the country level - which in turn is masked by my VPN

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When using vpn, you have to trust vpn provider.

Also, carrier provider will always know your location based on what gsm radio tower your phone is connected.

100% mobile privacy is almost impossible.

It‘s pretty much like in every day life. Stuff in my home is pretty much private. When I leave my house and go to work, people see me on the street and if they follow where I go, they can make a note, “he went there so he must work in that company”.

OS is the home and internet is the “streets”. That’s my current mind set.

And that’s not obvious at all for majority of people to have devices (laptops, phones) hardened in a way, they can be trusted not to read and send your data. So Iode is a very well needed system for us, who care for privacy. You just have to understand what is does and does not.

It is a rare luxure to have the control over your devices these days, in this windows/android/apple world.

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Hi @Vincenzo
Can I ask some questions about:

what would you suggest doing? I mean which browser for which purpose?

do you mean that it is better to avoid even extensions that would help against trackers, to avoid a unique fingerprint?

why should it be much better?

Thank you for your answers

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Hi @MaxMan, perhaps it is a little bit off-topic here, but how should be a PC configured to avoid being tracked? I guess replacing windows for Mint is not enough, right?

Thank you

Hi @N2iO

I use my browsers in this way:
Edge (new entry) - only for microsoft outlook and teams. I need them for working purposes (I’m a developer). I’m logged in with my Microsoft account of course. I never use this browser to search contents on the Internet.
Firefox - for working purposes, search engine is duck. I never log in with this browser.
Brave - for personal use, search engine is Brave. I never log in with this browser.
Chomium - for personal use and only to access to specific sites (such as iodé community).
I never use this browser to search contents on the Internet.
All browsers are configured to delete their cache automatically while closing.

Avoid extensions:
They can be part of the browser fingerprint. It’s better to maintain your browser as standard as possible.

Browsing via mobile phone:
This is a personal preference, my mobile phone contains lots of “sensitive” information, the less I use my mobile phone to surf the Internet, the less I’m exposed to privacy issues.
This problem is not present while using my PC (there are no contacts, no messages, no GPS locations etc…)

Of course the OS I’m using on my PC is linux (in particular Ubuntu 22.04 LTS).
Microsoft (and Apple) are not oriented to privacy conscious people.

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Hi @N2iO!

Yes, you are right, that replacing Windows with a Linux distibution, can’t solve tracking, which happens through browsing internet. But Linux distros themselves (like Ubuntu, Linux Mint etc.) don’t collect user data, which is a great improvement over Windows.

One article about Windows data collecting problem:
Windows 10 collects too much user data, lacks security says watchdog | TechRepublic

As far as I know, Tor Browser can resist fingerprinting well, but it lacks important capabilities like Javascript, so it’s not very good for day-to-day use. It’s also slow. Personally I use LibreWolf, which at least does some tricks to fool tracking sites. Some info about the browser in the link LibreWolf is the browser that best protects your privacy. - Linux Windows and android Tutorials.

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Two good comparision sites

I am using brave browser and brave search on linux, windows and android

  1. Browsers - DivestOS Mobile

  2. https://privacytests.org/

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Hi @Vincenzo

Thank you for taking the time to reply.
Your detailed answer makes sense to me.
By the way, I was surprised to see that you could use Edge with Linux … we learn something every day :smiley:
I guess that, one day, I will start enquiring what is the most privacy-friendly browser … I see a lot supporting Brave, I thought that sticking with the well-known Firefox would be a good idea …

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Hi @MaxMan
Thank you for your intersting answer.
Now I have another option to investigate (see what I replied to @Vincenzo) :wink:
Interesting article.

Thank you

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@N2iO nice talking with you about this interesting topic. :blush:

You wrote that you might stick with well-known Firefox. If Firefox is already familiar, then adopting LibreWolf is pretty easy, because in practice it is hardened Firefox. User interface is exactly same. But original Firefox is also a good browser, if you decide to use it. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Vanilla firefox has a lot of telemetry, healthcheck, crash report, heartbeat, captive portal, location service, etc onboard. I would not suggest to use it vanilla out of the box without a user.js and ublock

Or alternatives like libre wolf, waterfox, etc

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Yes, you have to be willing to customize firefox manually if you want to harden it more that its basic settings offer. But even vanilla ff with only ublock origin is miles better than something like google chrome or ms edge, i think. :slightly_smiling_face:

And yes, for fingerprinting, best bets are Tor Browser, Brave and LibreWolf, like recommended above in the thread