/e/ phone as a means of getting of the radar of Google

Dear all,

the past months I am on a personal journey to get of the radar of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Microsoft, and friends… For my laptop I changed from Windows 10 to Ubuntu. For my smartphone I changed from Google/HTC Android to /e/ Android. I have ended my Facebook/Whatsapp/Instagram accounts, and (this week finally) my Google account. I share hints and experiences with my friends and relatives.

I read discussions on this forum about calls /e/OS still does to Google services. To me this means I cannot promote /e/OS to my friends and relatives. A statement like ‘it is de best un-Googled smartphone’ is too vague not good enough for non-tech users to do the investment and accept the sacrifices.

Let’s say the OS does no more than one call a day to a Google service. That would be enough for Google to know my travels around the world (using hotel wifi’s). Ouch, that hurts… Of course that is only a very small trace with Google, compared to how I worked and lived before, but, combined with the many other traces of people around me that would probably be enough for Google to identify me.

Personally I would like to have a better idea of the state of un-googling of /e/OS. An idea that enables me to weigh the importance of it for how I use the phone and apps and browser.

With much appreciation for all the efforts of the /e/ team,

Henk

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I would be interestd to know exactly what calls. (Of course MicroG does, if enabled, with very limited amount of information).

Indeed if MicroG is enabled, the same unique identifier will ask to Google if notifications are available with different IP addresses.

But those little calls aren’t enough to really track you. And there is an easy solution for that : a VPN.

If your relatives are Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, tell them not to use /e/ in their main phone. If your relatives are common people, clearly those tiny calls are nothing compared to what they leak.


To enlarge the subject, your ISP knows where you are at every moment (if you don’t stay in Airplane mode). If you don’t use a VPN, your ISP knows on which websites you are.

Clearly, those little calls are at the end of the “To do for privacy” list. Let’s start by fixing the big and obvious leaks, then the others.

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Thank you @Anonyme for your reaction.

I see that I need to adjust my hypothetical scenario. That one little call per day is triggered by the OS, outside of my control, and it contains at least one identifier of my device.

The link of my device to my non-google-emailaddress is for Google easily laid, if I use my home wifi, communicate via email with Googled people about a visit, and they visit me and ask to use my home wifi… That is a common thing to happen. For this reason I have started to use only cellular data on my smartphone.

My ISP vows to not track my use of their services, and they are bound by EU GDPR.

Yes, for myself I am considering using VPN. But I am wrestling with this. I dread having to say to my friends and relatives ‘oh, yes, and you must also use a (paid!) VPN’. It all adds up. A more expensive phone, with less apps, with restrictions in online behaviour, with a VPN subscription, …

The thought comes up that Google and the like will never have to fear that the masses turn away from them. They can relaxed watch 1%, or 10%, struggling to escape, and keep near to 100% of their profits in selling well founded predictions of future behaviour. Only a fundamental change in (inter)national laws can force the Big Tech to change their practices.

On the positive side: the 10% strugglers for privacy can contribute to a change in public opinion.

Still hoping for more concise information about the current en future state of un-googling the /e/OS.

Thanks again,

Henk

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I think your scenario could only be real if you were targeted. And I don’t think the little calls “outside of your control” contain any unique identifier. So with a VPN, you’re good.

Google too :yum:

Why ? You can use /e/ on cheap phones, and keep them for years.
And the PinePhone (with kill switches) is only at 150$ (135 € + 50 € for shipping max). Not supported yet by /e/ but it’s planned.

The non-working apps are not the best for privacy, but it’s true you won’t be able to use some banking apps or Snapchat because there is no SafetyNet working in /e/, and some TV apps like Netflix because some devices (a minority I think) don’t have any DRM right.

What restrictions ?

ProtonVPN offers some free servers in a limited list of countries, not in France though and I’m not sure about the quality of the bandwidth.
But 90€ for 37 months with NordVPN (2.43€/month) isn’t something really expensive compared to what it brings.


So, yes /e/ isn’t perfect yet, but not recommend it and let people with the stockROM isn’t a good move according to me.

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Orbot has a VPN mode and it is free.

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First of all, good job on making the switch to a more privacy-friendly lifestyle!

You surely agree that it’s not something most people are willing to go through by themselves, even if they did have any reason to give up the convenience of services they already enjoy for free. Projects like /e/ aim to make it easier for people to keep enjoying the same services like email, cloud storage, etc, while respecting their privacy.

It sounds like you’re talking more about anonymity rather than privacy. Anonymity is really a whole other level and by no means is something that technology alone can provide, it takes effort from the end user that most people, even tech savvies can afford (if you want to maintain your lifestyle and/or sanity).

I’m not really sure what to say here to answer your question, there’s always something else you can do to improve your privacy. Some issues are more critical than others, some are out of your control. In my opinion choosing the right services and supporting them is already a big step forward. Focus on that, big things first, and understand that no one single technology will get you off the radar.

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@Anonyme thank you for replying. the scenario is just something I figured up myself. please let the e.foundation explain in detail to me to what degree an /e/ phone is still touching the Google ecosystem, and be concise about the planning. “it is planned” is vague. publish a planning.

restrictions in online behaviour are, if you really want to stay off the Google radar: do not use the Google search engine, don’t watch youtube video, don’t use gmail, don’t use Google translate, don’t use apps that use the playstore, etc.

@Alt0216 thank you for the tip

@PNJ88_Beast thank you. it is not about anonymity, it is about staying off the Google radar. I would like to support /e/, but /e/ is, as I feel it, not holding itself accountable. “Big things first” is too vague for me. Tell me what the small things are… what they amount up to. The “Big things” I can for the most part also avoid on a stock rom android phone.

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You can’t, because the biggest thing would be the Google Services included in the stock ROM.

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@HenkK if you are looking for a response from /e/ developers … ‘we changed line 46 on this code file or the plan is to be ‘perfect’ on day xx of xxx month’… then we do not have such detailed documentation nor a perfect plan with precise dates . It is a small team and most of the time the team members are neck deep in bug fixes and enhancement requests.
In case we are forgetting, the code base we use is from google- AOSP. Which Lineage took up and then we forked from them.
We have de-googled a lot of it. Do not ask exactly which lines because as I mentioned it is simply not possible to track that now as it is not documented…
Getting into an argument or discussing all this again or expect new answers that are beyond what has already been given here is not going to happen because as I mentioned the dev team is already running late on a number of issues for e.g. closing out 600 bugs (numbers as of today), releasing an easy installer, Upgrading the devices still stuck on nougat or oreo to the Pie build, coming out with a system with different levels of profiles and a FOSS only version of the ROM, change the name from /e/ to something more easier, …the list is long and I have not even mention half the issues we are tackling

What will be easier for you is using your experience you can run tools / apps which check the network connectivity or run through the code and let us know if the /e/OS still leaks data.
The entire code base is available on Gitlab.

Find out where we went wrong or what is not done properly and let us know by raising issues on the Gitlab and we will be happy to fix it.

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There are too many things to list them here, I suggest starting reading this: https://www.privacytools.io

In my opinion the answer can be better than that. You, or another /e/ member could provide a general state of the ungoogling at this point. For example:

  • DNS is not provided bij Google anymore.
  • Connections to Google are removed (there maybe still some connections, we challenge users to find them).
  • Microg can expose your identity, but is needed for a lot of Apps’s.
  • etc.
    I’m sure there are a lot more points. It is important to be clear about this, because /e/'s target is to be Goolag free, the state of that mission must be clear.

A “degoogle” tag in the Gitlab commits would also help. This way people interested in that could search way faster.

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@Manoj now we are talking. basically you are inviting me, as a user, to become an insider. the openness of the source code is a good thing, but the technical knowledge needed and the amount of source code make it practically undoable. detecting leakage to Google is a responsibility of /e/, not of its users. please add it to /e/.

there are two issues here for me. the first issue is that the /e/ organisation should hold itself accountable for their claims to the general pubic in an orderly fashion. bits of information here and there in the forum is not adequate for accountablilty. it should have a starting point at the homepage. the other issue is the apparent shift of focus towards making /e/ more acceptable, all while the primary goal of ungoogling is still not met completely. for me ‘un-googling’ is the reason of existence (raison d’etre) of /e/.

What @andrelam is writing, that is exactly what i am asking for. Hold yourself accountable to the general public for your claim of un-googling. Make the list of André, which is high level, complete, to cover in an understandble way what un-gloogling means, and to what extent your goal is reached. If at some points there still is a exposure to the Google eco system, help me understand what it means for my privacy wrt Google. if you are working on improvement give us release date’s.

I cannot plead the cause of /e/ by saying ‘/e/ is not completely un-googled, but they are good guys and working very hard’.

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@lkesjbnrti and @PNJ88_Beast thanks for the reactions. I like to take up the challenge, but first I need to have a clearer idea of the measure of success of /e/ in un-googling android. if there remains exposure to the Google eco-system, it could be interesting to compare this to a radical approach in avoiding/suppressing google exposure with a regular stock rom. interesting because it can be applied by everybody who uses an android phone. I propose to do this then in a seperate thread.

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Hello.

As I understand, Manoj told you that everyone can help. Users can test and report bugs and issues. No need to be a power-user.

It seems understable that the full list of de-googled features, everywhere in the code, can’t really be done or may create a f… amount of work.

At least, I tried to use custom ROMs whithout gg apps and as few datas leak as possible. But I can’t ungg the code by myself, so I have to trust /e/ devs will… and wait for the /e/FOSS I’m expecting.

Use /e/, report bugs, try alternative apps, tell about how they work in /e/ without gg… help /e/ ! Devs have already nice results, other will come, be sure :wink:

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There is a response on our documentation site here in case that answers some of the questions raised here.
All the same I would say find the answers yourself.
Google and Facebook in their press releases always maintain that they seriously value their user rights and privacy. We all know what the facts are.
Similarly do not take us on our statements or comments.
Flash the build or check the code and let us know what issues still remain .
As Gaël always says /e/ is a evolution not a revolution. We are working on evolving and improving the AOSP / Lineage code.
We will be happy to update and improve the code in case there are valuable pointers from your side.

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The documentation available on the website is well written and structured including a chapter on what is meant by ungoogling.
But I’m also happy to see that the ungoogling part that is at the core of /e/ is being questioned. It sure is complex and technical. As a non-tech savy I will not dig into it personally but I need to see trust from the community. I don’t know how /e/ can bring this trust, but this discussion gives hints. I noticed in the past a lack of convergence between e and Lineage (it was regarding updates). Why not consider the complete supply chain. Check upstream where we can gain efficiency and smoothen the processes.

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Hey @ Henk, did anyone say hello to you in the Netherlands? :smiley: Well Hi from me, the wife and I love Dordt, Zwolle, Amsterdam too! Also Suver N and your National Park. :wink: As another fishing Nation I hope you understand the sayings “A fishmonger never cries (shouts) Stinking Fish” and “Red Herring”…? :hushed:
It is clear that you are asking all the right questions but are getting the same old answers rolled out from e support and our admin. :weary:

It requires only a little digging around our forum to reveal the basics have been discussed at length by myself and the usual suspects. So a little enlightenment (here) in answering your profound questions may be found by reading a few of the threads below – though not exclusively. The Intercept website, Golem.de and The Register have interesting info on security: https://www.theregister.co.uk/security/
/e/ and cellphone provider tracking
Government surveillance
Arguments for privacy / against mainstream apps

“A fishmonger never cries (shouts) Stinking Fish” - So you have read and questioned the wild claims made on the front page but got no real answers or independent confirmation of anything just @manoj again asking you to DIY – do it yourself, whilst not acknowledging golem article or anything else. I made the mistake of buying eS7 based on this front page! I’m a little wiser now. You are right to dismiss the – Well it only leaks a little bit – security or privacy is only as strong as the weakest link – a point lost on efoundation admin and support – please don’t mention microG… As they say they are too busy doing other stuff like rearranging the deckchairs and cleaning the huge sign saying Privacy Enabled.
Hey, I too support any attempt to break away from normality, mainstream and the noble quest of the Knights of the Round table to take on the Dark Side, Sith and Goolag – but feel like the Knight still attempting to fight with no arms or legs left! (Monty Python – Tis but a scratch) :grin: :joy: :crazy_face:
https://yewtu.be/watch?v=ZmInkxbvlCs
You then got the classic Red Herring

Think I had better not get too involved here else they will start threats of a ban again; but shall we ask if there is ANY independent assessment to counter the golem thread? Or from project - MicroG feature No1 Opt-in to Google Services and extend application support – Hey, I want out of everything google! MicroG feature No2; on-/offline location service – Hey, I want to turn off all location services but MicroG will not allow this! Who is in control of my phone? Certainly not me! :frowning_face:
MicroG is a common alternative to Google Play Services. Many people use this to get rid of Google tracking on their device but many people do not realise that this substantially worsens security by requiring signature spoofing which allows apps to request to bypass signature verification. - Not My Words but did anyone explain why you would want to buy an ePhone and then put Goolag Pay Apps on it? Beats my mind. :face_with_head_bandage:
Wish you all well at this time, wherever you are – Stay Safe. Yes; You and your devices! Buy a Faraday bag.
ps I use ubuntu but mostly Trisquel now on old laptop. Use Tails 4.5 plus Tor LIVE in RAM if I want a little privacy - carry it on a USB stick or DVD - use it anywhere on any computer! :ok_hand:

The whole idea of /e/ is to address everyone, including the great majority of us who want the usual mainstream apps, (and maybe get rid of it over time). Just a reminder so we stay focused.

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???

Privacy needs to learn other way of using your phone. How can you expect privacy from mainstream (googled) apps ? Furthermore with permissive settings ?

I installed /e/ without SIM card nor WiFi, disabled first Location and all microG settings… privacy need to be paranoid, first ! And /e/staff can’t ungg /e/users :smiley:

Édith says : tittle is about “getting of gg’s radar”…

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Hi @cedricoola Cedric,

ENABLE PRIVACY according to e’s front page!

Just so you can stay focused - @trefix and Edith along with myself wish to respectfully remind you of the TOPIC for this thread:-

Merci a vous Edith :smiley_cat: