I’m strongly thinking of buying the Fairphone 4 with /e/os after watching Dr. Epstein on JRE but I have some questions. How de googled is /e/os? Do I have to agree to any license agreement from google whilst starting the phone for the first time or using any of it’s apps? Do I ever have to agree to some license agreement with google? I want zero(0%) to do with google.
No. Nor did you have to do that with a regular Android phone. You could have skipped that part when setting up the phone.
/e/ does not have any GApps installed, and I don’t imagine they would work on /e/ anyway (see later comment). /e/ uses micro-G to spoof and replace dependence on Google for other apps that expect to implement Google (dis-)services.
Nope. It was not necessary on regular Android, either. (If you skipped the Google sign-in and avoided using their apps.)
I have three Sonys, one with /e/+micro-G, one with LineageOS+micro-G, and one with LineageOS+no micro-G and no other GApps replacement, or GApps at all.
I definitely notice a huge difference in the hidden background connections, based on what I see in Blokada 5 and my Pi-hole home network setup. I’ve only seen one connection to mtalk.google. com on /e/. The other phones show more frequent checks to Google domains.
So there’s definitely a difference in the installations.
Edit: Installing any app built by Google would of course change the picture, though.
I think to get rid off of (most) of the tracking and profiling, that’s going on on your smartphone (or any other device connected to the internet), you do not only need a de- googled Android. You really should watch out what apps you are using, since most of them are stuffed with trackers, often provided by google or facebook, but there are many others making a living by grabbing peoples data wherever they find them. Also e.g. Paypal and the like will literally do anything with your data, as long as it is not “forbidden by law” (and the law is mostly still very weak).
So look out for “fair” apps that respect privacy (like e.g Fairmail, Privacy Friendly Weather or Net Guard) and be ready to pay for them to keep such programming going on. And use a decent browser, that blocks tracker on web pages, like Firefox or DuckDuckGo, probably even Tor. Blocking apps like Blockada or NetGuard may also help a little, at least to increase awareness. BTW: Emails from companies very often contain trackers, and each image referenced can be used as tracker.
Maybe you will want to keep an old phone as the “dirty” device, left in the drawer only to be used for apps that won’t work without Google Services (but it should still receive security updates!).
Finally, you should keep in mind that communication metadata will always be produced as soon as you do anything online, so you also need to trust your telecom provider (read their privacy statement…). Same with your bank account or credit card (every bill you don’t pay cash produces most interesting, valuable data).
IMHO, there is but a little chance to win in this rat race as an end user (you may significantly reduce your digital footprint though). But in the end, data- and privacy protection need to be guaranteed by law much more than it is the case today.