58
tahnik
1y

I am trying to understand something for a while. devRant is full of privacy advocates and to be honest, part of it is almost taken by a group of people that call other people random swear words people because they are using a particular product of a company.

I will raise some points and will try to discuss them with other people in comments.

I will stick with Google. Since it looks like it's the most hated one. A company that has built one of the most intelligent infrastructure, the most popular mobile operating system and of course, the best search engine currently available.

The problem everyone sees is the privacy. Google tracks the search history to give users a better experience and show relevant ads. You might not need this "better experience". In case you don't know, you can turn off personalized search any time to make sure Google doesn't track. Same goes with Google Chrome, you can turn off all the data it is sending to servers in settings. You can simply not sign in if you don't anything to be synchronised.

An argument is Google should be opt-in rather than opt-out. But the general users are not tech-savvy. And yes, going to settings and turning on personalised search is a lot of work for a huge amount of people. Trust me, I worked in IT before. If they find other search engine giving them a good experience without changing anything in the settings, they will just simply move to that engine.

What interests me most if how people back DuckDuckGo. First of all, not all parts of DDG is not open source (it's fucking not, you can argue all day). Parts of it is closed because of licensing issues.

That is perfectly fine to privacy community. But it's not when Chrome is closed source for almost the same reason. I mean when you're using DDG, you are supporting a US-based company that has privacy all over its face and using closed source application on their server. Have you not learned anything from history?

You might be wondering about my obsession with Google. It hurts me when I see a giant company whose popular software is open source is bashed like this. Google has made huge contributions to open source communities. Chromium, Android, Kubernetes, Angular, GoLang, TensorFlow etc.

And PRISM, how do you know that DDG is not part of it? it's US-based after all.

I just saw an article that used a video with a title "TNW - Aral Balkan - Free Is A Lie | The Next Web" while asking us to switch to DDG. Ummm....DDG is also free right?

Maybe we should raise concerns with the US gov first rather than Google.

Comments
  • 15
    You made some really good points tbh. I didn't know DDG was not 100% open source which was interesting to me as people seem to pretend it is? Anyway, really good rant @tahnik
  • 18
    This is how a Friday is supposed to end. Devflix and chill. 🍿🍻
  • 5
    I use DDG because it has a dark theme :P
  • 3
    @LuPaw just installera stylish :)
  • 2
    I didnt even know ddg was partly open source. I just use it because they say they care about privacy, something which isnt proven otherwise as far as I know.
    And they also have nice themes and settings.
  • 4
    @LuPaw use the "Stylish" chrome plugin and every website can have a dark theme.
  • 1
    Just use startpage instead lol
  • 1
    @1989 Google’s agenda is making money that’s pretty clear lol
  • 1
    (when I use the word 'people' I don't mean everyone because not everyone uses Google, windows, etc.)

    Google's main income is selling personalized ads. To deliver the right ad to you they need to collect data about you. This isn't anything new and has been well known for years. Now to gain information about someone that person has to use something that you can control. Getting people to use something you control can be achieved by making it convenient. If it's convenient people will use it and because you have control over it (you are the one hosting the service) you can use it to gather data on the one using it. You basically use the user to get data about them and then show them ads to earn money. You basically use the user to earn money and so the user becomes a 'used' (credits go to Richard stallman).

    In a nutshell: Google exists because they are good at getting (a lot) information about you.
  • 1
    Yes, it's true that Google supports the development of open source software and they also have open sourced some of their projects, however they don't do this without a reason.

    The best example here for is Android. Google has a huge part in the development of Android but they also have reason to do so from a business point of view.
    After basically dominating the search engine market they want to expand their field and the smartphone market is a great place to do so. A lot of people have their smartphone with them almost all the time which is an awesome thing for google. Basically every Android smartphone you can buy these days comes with all the Google things preloaded. Play store, the Google app itself, Google chrome, google allo (their miserable attempt at trying to get into the personal messenger market) and Google assistant. Google basically controls the phone and so they can get a lot of information about you like your location. They also have microphone and camera access.
  • 3
    @404response They could make Android closed-source if they wanted to. Just look at Apple. They are doing fine with their closed-source os.

    There has been multiple builds of Android without Google service. It's possible because they have made the OS open-source.

    And yes of course, they will integrate their services with their operating system. They need to stay in the business. But they showed others that they can be open and still dominate the market at the same time.
  • 0
    @404response Google exists because they provide value to their users. They aren't just good at using personal data to serve ads, they are also good at using it to improve your life.
  • 8
    thank you!

    *waiting for linuxxx or Michelle to get here*
    * grabs popcorn *
  • 1
    Of course Android isn't the only open source thing they support. Let's take Tensorflow for example, a pretty good python library for machine learning.
    Open sourcing software is generally a smart idea (as long as it doesn't contain any code that you don't want the public to see). You have a lot more eyes on it and a lot more people are developing it that you don't have to pay and of course it makes the company look 'better'. However it is not 'free' software. It has an Apache License and not a General public license like for example the Linux kernel.

    Speaking of which, android also uses the Linux kernel, a great example of what can be achieved when a lot of people work together with the sole aim of making something for the community. The GNU / Linux operating system (or the distributions based on it) shows that if a lot of people work together, they can achieve something which usually only big companies like Microsoft can achieve. The Linux kernel is free software. free as in freedom
  • 2
    @ryanmhoffman I would also say that the Linux Kernel has improved the life of many (Android uses it, most servers run a distro based on the Linux kernel). I am running Linux Mint and openSUSE and both use the Linux Kernel. They are awesome operating systems. The Linux kernel wasn't developed by any company focused on earning money. It was/is being developed by a group of people working on it in their free time. It is free software (https://gnu.org/philosophy/...) and improves the life of many people (basically everyone who uses the internet because most servers use the Linux kernel).
  • 0
    @tahnik I doubt they can make android fully closed source. Its still the linux kernel, and changes to that have to be open source as well
  • 0
    @404response completely agree. I run arch and Android. Both improve my life. Not sure I'm on topic anymore though...
  • 1
    Here's my two cents

    First of all, I agree with you on the ddg aspects. However by default they say we don't track you. If I am logged into my gmail (which at some point I will change), it won't affect my ddg searches.

    Now having said that, ddg isn't perfect, that is why when another interesting option comes along, such as https://searx.org/ (which I can host myself if I want to); I will definitely give it a try over ddg or Google

    Secondly on the Android side, let's make it clear that it would have been improbable to work if it was closed source. The reason is that hardware companies such as Samsung, LG and others wouldn't not have started using it on tbeir hardware. They didn't want another example of Microsoft Windows to happen on the mobile platforms.

    Also Google has been making money off Android using the PlayStore, location and ads services. Soon they'll be making a lot through Android Pay (Pay wih Google)
  • 4
  • 0
    @ryanmhoffman my point is that we can also improve our lives by working together in a community, producing free code while not depending on any company
  • 0
    @404response the linux kernel gets a lot of support from Microsoft and Google. Both with donations as adding to the code.
  • 1
    ...Lastly from a personal perspective, when a single company becomes dominant in "all" feilds, they can abuse their power, it might not be now, but it will happen over time. I would rather the power was spread across many small companies, rayher than a gigantic multi-national one, ...however unfortunate the current trend is going
  • 0
    @rusty-hacker they dont want another windows on the mobile market?
    Why did LG, Samsung and a few other companies have windows phones?
  • 1
    @Codex404 😜

    That is because Android(and iOS) have practically become Windows. They thought it might be possible to split the market between 3 instead of only 2 OS/Stores. Remember competition gives you negotiating powet ...

    I remember that Samsung was trying very hard to push their Store, even though it hasn't been successful as far as I know
  • 3
    Conflict of interests.

    Irony:

    “So they can show you more personalized ads”

    Yeah but they’re showing you ads.
  • 1
    @rusty-hacker I never said that they don't have purpose behind making these software open source. Of course, they are gettting benifits from the community. But at the same time, Google has enough power to create everything from scratch and make them closed source. But they are understanding the power of open source and contributing to it. They are making money and the community is getting benefits. It's a win win for everyone here.

    and your last point, Google is not the only company doing these. There is Amazon, M$ and IBM.
  • 4
    @Tommy314 Haha!

    Of course you can't know if ddg is involved in anything but it's the only search engine which enables you to set some very good privacy options yourself and next to that (lost the source too badly) people have done some tests and it seems like ddg is really trying its best to give the user control.

    As for Google it's simple. I don't mind the company myself but I mind their practices. It should be my choice what data I share. It should be my choice whether my email is analyzed or not. Google takes that away from you. "you can choose not to use google" - sure but what if I HAVE to email someone and they only have gmail? My choice is fucking gone.
    Also loads of sites use Google analytics so if I don't use any ad/tracker blockers, your choice of getting your data integrated within Google is gone again. "you can choose to not visit the site!" - how can an average use know a site uses Google analytics before visiting it? They can't.

    Then they're integrated with PRISM. "they don't have a choice" - yes they do, they just don't go for it. The best example is the email company snowden used (lavabit). They were ordered to hand over the private ssl key or to close their company.

    On the last day they gave the key - hand written in the tiniest way - and closed their business because they didn't want to betray their customers.

    "that's impossible for google" - it's not. They just care more about money.
  • 1
    @FrodoSwaggins I do not understand what you mean. Personalised ads are better for them and end users. You don't want to see ads about kids toys when you are a developer. You might argue that you don't want personalised ads, then go ahead and turn it off.
  • 4
    @tahnik I'll do a rant the other way around tonight :)
  • 1
    @tahnik there are several reasons why personalized ads are a privacy issue. Lets say I looked up female underwear online and I will get tons of related ads. If then someone else gets on my PC they see what I looked for.

    If I want other people to know what I do online I would tell them if they wanted to, but I do want to have privacy.
  • 1
    @tahnik I guess this is one of those things that you either understand or you don’t.

    @linuxxx I’ll be looking forward to that.
  • 4
    @linuxxx Again, go to https://privacy.google.com/take-con... and you can turn off your trackings just like DDG.

    Google has announced that they have stopped reading emails for personalised ads. At this point, the emails are read anonymously just to give users things like reminders, flight updates, package updates etc.

    Google Analytics is a vital tools for business. You can't use it to identify users specifically. You have anonymous data collection in your website right? Analytics is just a bit more detailed so that when you have a huge business, you can see exactly where you're spending your money.

    Google itself provides an add-on you can use if you don't want to be tracked. General users doesn't care about this tracking and it's a huge benefit for Google and online markets.

    The company closed their business right? And how many people know about it? And just so you know, lavabit has been resurrected and who knows what happened in the background to resurrect it.

    That's why I say that you should blame the gov first, something that I never see in any privacy related posts. Those companies are stuck in a country where the gov has stupid laws. Maybe focus on that instead of blaming the company.
  • 1
    @Codex404 ummm...private window? If you don't want personalised ads permanently, go ahead and turn it off.
  • 5
    @FrodoSwaggins well if you are unable to share your knowledge to others or not willing to debate, please stop commenting. You should stop feeling like a special snowflake who understands things that others don't.
  • 4
    This is why I'm more passionate about offlining, selfhosting and simplifying my tools than about trusting companies which promise privacy.
  • 0
    @tahnik I don't really like it to switch, so I tried everything to make me the most private to Google. I switched off everything and installed the opt-out plugins. But: It seriously doesn't really work. Either I forgot to switch it off at any location or they don't care whether you have opted out. They still base the ads on the video you're watching and your IP addresses location. Secondly, On youtube, I need the google account while I don't on google. It's not ok for me to log in and out every time I open youtube (although it would probably stop me procrastinating). But very good argumentation.
  • 1
    @tahnik I think its weird that by default privacy invasion is enabled and accepted by most people.
  • 0
    @bcye If you are not logged in, the data collected from youtube or google is anonymous. They can't use that to track you specifically. It's literally like a random person is browsing something and based on that they show you some ads. That does not affect your personal information.
  • 1
    @404response 30 minutes later finally read through all your answers β°πŸ˜‚
  • 0
    @Codex404 it's the same point I made. You may not see it right away, but there is a very few people in the world that understand what the technology does. If other companies are giving them better expereinces, they will just move to that rather than understanding why it gives them a better experience.
  • 0
    @tahnik it does if you log in a bit later though, they can just add two of those profiles together.

    Ive reinstalled my android phone recently with another email address. It still suggested things related to me. Like after typing "I am" it suggested "colorblind". Even after a clean install (flashed android on it manually), and another new account...
  • 1
    @linuxxx thanks for naming lavabit. Google has an opt-out plugin for double-click and analytics. If you live in Europe you can visit a site (funny: its linked in facebook tos πŸ˜‚πŸ‘ that lets you opt out of every tracker used in europe)
  • 0
    @tahnik yeah but then I have to log me in and out all the time
  • 0
    @tahnik if it was as simple as not logging in, I would be fine.

    The bigger issue is that I know how easy it is, to sew my supposedly anonymous search on mobile, to updates from my foreced logged in Play Store on the same mobile. Now there literally hundreds of other attributes which they log, from window size to the last mouse movement pattern in the last page you visited that had X Analytics.

    Now these may seem like complex or impossible to distinguish a person, but believe me when I tell you that it's much easier to mine through these data to specify who is using device X.

    Then these tools in the wrong hands, will gradually take away your freedoms in order to make more and more profits.

    I mean just look at the job contracs you ae signing now with big companies. They have grown from 2 pages to 40 pages, preventing you to do x, y, z ... If you don't like it, well tough luck, you'll have to move to the oher end of the world so you might be able to find something slightly more pala..
  • 0
    I apologize, if my comments themselves are turning into rants :P
  • 3
    @tahnik conflict of interests.

    You can “turn things off” but there’s no guarantee that they’re off, in fact I’d go so far as to say I bet you can do a controlled trial with Gmail with these things on and prove they’re actually on to some degree.

    Google doesn’t give you their service for free. You’re smart enough to understand that.

    They also call it “pausing” which inherently suggests it will turn itself on again at some interval

    Then we get to the point of the conversation where we discuss how the average gmail user won’t really understand what any of this means or how it affects them. Google tries very hard to convince you to turn this stuff on, and 99% of people will click through these things, and I’m betting half of those would probably not want those things.

    So it’s just them throwing their weight around.

    I can put forward actual arguments if you want but based on your rhetoric I doubt you’ll accept them.
  • 1
    @Dacexi oh wow thank you :) i just fell in love with that addon <3 How the hell was it possible I didn‘t know about the existance of that :O
  • 0
  • 2
    @tahnik First paragraph, it's literally their business model so I guess they're still doing that in the background.

    Vital to business? Sure, doesn't mean it should track me around the Internet without explicit permission, it's my fucking computer, stay away from it.
    Yeah I do analytics.
    The data I store: a counter gets increased every time someone visits a blog post. Yeah, that's literally it.

    So -> I <- have to install something if -> I <- don't want to be tracked? What the actual fuck.

    The fact that its not widely known has nothing to do with how good that act was. They didn't want to sell out their users and did everything possible to live by that. Take a look at the Darkmail protocol and lavaboom! They explain what happened :).

    Of course the govt is to blame for the spying but I blame the companies for hardly fighting it.
  • 0
    @endor I understand both parties. Funny that some people think they're entitled to use ows's servers for their custom app, that's not really how it works haha
  • 0
    @404response actually the Linux kernel is almost completely developed by companies trying to make money.
  • 1
    @linuxxx what about Signal refusing to go fully open source and relying on some google components though?
  • 0
    @DuckyMcDuckFace I don't think that linus torvalds is a company

    It's true that a lot of people working on it also work in big companies but linus still has the saying over what gets merged into the repo
  • 1
    I'm on the fence (or on the couch with 🍿🍻) when it comes to privacy and technology and all this stuffs. But anyway all of your comments made me want to share my thoughts.

    I totally can understand points made by both sides and I would say both sides are correct in their points. But the debate is based on the corporate/government/or whoever on in charge level.

    IMO, it is all because of us, users/human beings/general public. We are just advanced and smarter but very lazy monkeys species. We want things to be done quickly, we want things to be done easily, we want things to be done cheaply. That's how businesses are earning in this world. So for the majority, they don't literally care about all those privacy and whatever. All they care and all they want is something good, something that helps them. Corporate provides. All win win.
  • 0
    But then there are also the minority of us who are a bit less lazy and value the way things happen in their lives. They wanna have control of their lives. They want to know the details. They want to decide with their choices. For them they don't need corporates. They gotta work a bit harder with their hands on their own.

    That's how I see.
  • 1
    @FrodoSwaggins Finally, a nicely written explanation. Thank you.

    Yes, I know that very well that Google doesn't give their service to me for free. If you read my post again, the point I was trying to make was that you can't trust DDG either. You can flip some switches in the settings of DDG but how do you really know that they are not doing what Google is doing? After all, part of their source is closed.

    People want to make their life easy. It's the nature of human. If someone is given the opportunity to control their privacy and they chose not to, it's their fault. Google can't understand what all people want, but they do understand that majority of wants their life to be easy without changing a lot of settings. Thus by default, they focus on personalising the experience.

    And it's not simply about accepting what you are saying. The point is to debate and learn from each other. What you or I am saying is not necessary always right.
  • 1
    @linuxxx I will mention again, tracking is bad if that can be used to track you specifically. Google analytics can't be used to find you. Anonymous trackings has been on the internet for a very long time and it's pretty normal just like your blog. And it is vital for business. You don't want to throw your money around to wrong audience.

    I agree with your point that privacy should be widely known. But think about it, first time you visit google, it shows you a popup in the bottom asking you to review their privacy policy. How many people do you think read that? I mean Google is probably one of the most visited website on the internet. Even if they try to make people aware of it, how many people are willing to learn?
  • 1
    @tahnik How can we be sure that Google doesn't internally link (or is able to) this data?

    Next to that, this Google cookie thingy is also a reason not to use Google for me: https://washingtonpost.com/news/...

    I simply don't want any kind of tracking mechanism phoning home when it's integrated in a surveillance engine, simple as that.

    As for how many people read it, what does that have to do with anything?
  • 1
    @linuxxx My point of this post was, if you don't trust Google, how do you trust DDG? Whenever you're using a product of a company, it's all about trust. DDG might also be under NSA. It's US based after all.

    "As for how many people read it, what does that have to do with anything?"

    What I meant was, even if Google is trying to make everyone aware of the data collected by Google and how they can control it, most of the people just ignores it.
  • 1
    CAAAAAAN DOOOOOO!!! He's @MrMeeseeks, look at him!!!!
  • 2
    @tahnik I already explained that in my first comment :)

    And they could make their ToS/privacy policy human-readable. Seriously even I don't understand what they mean sometimes. That's where add-ons like TOS;DR come in!
  • 2
    @tahnik you’re assuming I do trust DDG

    I don’t trust anybody, just general principal it’s better to be a skeptic.

    So I use DDG but I also use tor. Problem solved.
  • 0
    @404response my point was that about 90% of the code in the Linux kernel was developed and committed by for profit companies and only about 10% was developed by people in their free time.

    Which was in response to your statement:
    "The Linux kernel wasn't developed by any company focused on earning money. It was developed by a group of people working on it in their free time."
  • 1
    @DuckyMcDuckFace because for profit companies use Linux and want to help improve it for both the community but also themselves, since, they use it.
  • 1
    @DuckyMcDuckFace I thought it was more like 50%.

    In terms of code you are using at any given time, it’s more like 10% since so much of it is drivers or other support.

    And it’s open source GPL at the end of the day so you can read it.
  • 1
    @FrodoSwaggins according to the Linux foundation the top 10 contributing companies (Google, Intel, etc.) make up 54% of the total contibutions. But if you include all for profit companies it's about 90%.

    @Dacexi Yes I know that is my whole point. I was correcting @404response who said that Linux was almost completely written by individual programmers in their spare time.
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