A Privacy Guide For Biden Times

While there’s a good chance President Trump will be able to successfully challenge the Election Day vote results and secure a second term, there’s always the possibility he may not. In case he doesn’t, or even if Trump does prevail, tech giants could still continue messing with users who do not match their ideology. It is important to have back ups and I have some ideas on what you can do to protect yourself.

Regardless if you are an Apple or Android user, the fact is Apple and Google can reach in to your smartphones or tablets via its operating system and somehow restrict or monitor what you are doing. Both companies own the operating systems of your mobile devices so that can give them license to invade your privacy. 

As an aside, I prefer open source applications and products. With open source, people knowledgeable about source code can peer review them, warn people if there’s anything wrong, or suggest to improve products to their developers. However, there are many open source applications that aren’t as good as pre-installed or proprietary ones so your mileage may vary. Overall, I have been able to narrow down issues to the ones I cover and consider vital above that I think could come up over the next few months.

If you own an iPhone, I would suggest switching to Android since you can completely replace an Android phone’s operating system to avoid Google’s nonsense. Unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, Apple devices do not have this capability.

So far, the best operating system (OS) to replace Android is Graphene. It is a very secure, free, and open source OS. GrapheneOS does come with it’s own apps but you can download another application repository called F-Droid that carries all open source applications and even includes one named Aurora Store that enables users to anonymously access Google’s play store.

A very good how-to video on uploading and using Graphene is here. If Graphene is not for you, Calyx looks very secure and there is also Lineage but it doesn’t seem as safe as the two former options. Also, switching cell phone plans might be something to consider as well in which Patriot and Mint Mobile both seem to provide good service and are reasonably priced.

If you use free email services, such as Gmail or Hotmail, your emails can be scanned by the hosting company. To avoid this, I highly recommend Protonmail or Tutanota. Both providers are open source, have very good encryption, and security protection. The two are also free but provide enhanced features for yearly fees in which both email providers are priced well for what they offer customers.*

If you would rather wait and see what happens, a good idea in the interim would be to download a few applications to use on your Android or iPhone just to be safe:

1) For Android users, replace or disable Chrome and use DuckDuckGo, Firefox Focus, or Brave instead. While Brave and DuckDuckGo are Chrome-based browsers, respectfully, all three are centered on privacy and security. If you use Apple, Safari is your best bet since the company gives its browser preference resulting from Apple’s rendering engine.

2) If possible, download and replace your texting and phone application with Signal or use it as a back up. Signal is free, open source, and encrypted so it is very hard if not impossible for anyone to monitor your calls and texts when you use it.

3) Reduce the amount of apps you have on your mobile devices and replace as many as you can with applications that are open source from F-Droid or, if you have an iPhone, from alt-store which is repository for open source apps for Apple devices.

4) Replace Google or Apple note taking apps with Standard Notes. Your inner-most thoughts or pieces of information you’d rather not share can be accessed through note taking applications, such as Google Keep. Standard Notes is a cloud-based, free, open source, and encrypted note taking application that can keep away spying eyes.

5) Use as many alternatives to Google and Apple products as you can. For example, Google’s search engine is the most used and is said to provide the best search results. But you can use Startpage which acts as an intermediary so you get Google’s results without the tracking.

If you own an Apple computer, I suggest switching to a Windows-based one since you can replace the operating system on those as well. If need be you can download W10 Privacy or Windows Spy Blocker to avoid or restrict Windows’ numerous privacy-invading ways.

It would be wise to encrypt your computer files too, in which Windows 10 Pro comes with encryption. However, Veracrypt can be downloaded on Windows or Apple computers if you’d prefer an alternative. Two OS’s you can replace Windows with that I like are Fedora and Qubes.

For your desk or laptop browsers, Brave or Firefox are excellent choices. Primarily using either of these will help you avoid using Window’s browser, Edge. Both also have mobile versions with encrypted synchronization features that you can utilize if you use their mobile versions too. However, Firefox needs to be tweaked in order to strengthen its privacy protections, as opposed to Brave where they are built in.

A Biden Administration will ensure the Left’s lock on the U.S.’s political system and will mean more persecution and oppression of their opposition, including technology companies using their technological devices to assist the Left to achieve their aim. Regardless if Biden or Trump prevail, since your smart phone and computer are an extension of you, it’s best to plan for what could come to protect yourself.

Hopefully, none of what I write about will happen. Unfortunately, the likelihood of decreased privacy and persecution of the Left’s opponents is more likely since Joe Biden will be in bed with Big Tech, if he is victorious. If you haven’t taken much interest in your overall privacy and security, now would be a good time to start. I hope the suggestions I outline are of benefit to you and give you a good basis to gain more knowledge about technology and privacy.

*ADDENDUM 11/15/2020: Two other privacy-oriented email providers that are also open source, priced competitively, and have very good security are TheXYZ and CyberFear. However, the former has mobile clients while the latter does not.

ADDENDUM 11/17/2020: Some people have suggested Tor, but I do not recommend using it due to the reasons outlined here.