My Mobile Privacy Toolkit

My Mobile Privacy Toolkit

My mission isn’t to delete myself from the internet. That’s not the kind of privacy I’m after. I am, however, concerned with having agency over my personal information. I imagine you are too. And if you’re like me and spend a lot of time on a smartphone, there are simple steps you can take to reclaim your privacy.

This list of 5 privacy-focused apps is a good place to start. All of my recommendations are open source, meaning their security and data practices are audited regularly. They are also modern, fast, and easy to use. Gone are the days of clunky and slow web browsers for a modicum of privacy! I use all 5 apps daily, so if you have any questions about how they work or if you need an alternative, don't hesitate to contact me! All apps are available for iOS and Android.

n.b. All of these recommendations are my own, I get no financial compensation for website redirects or resultant purchases.

iVPN (VPN Provider)

VPNs are becoming more and more commonplace, so what makes one better than another? Since a VPN provider handles all of your internet traffic during a session, there are all kinds of ways your data can be mishandled. Free VPNs tend to be the worst offenders. Without a revenue stream, many free providers will sell user metadata to support their service. iVPN is my recommendation. It isn't free (starting at $6/month), but you get access to 45+ servers for the quickest service for up to 7 devices simultaneously. You can pay anonymously with cryptocurrency and they're based in Gibraltar, far from the "five eyes" alliance. Best of all, they don't log any user information. Their service is widely accessible with lightweight apps for the most popular devices. Check it out!

DuckDuckGo (Mobile Browser)

Safe and private mobile browsers have been a hard sell. Safari and Chrome have the bulk of the market, and changing your routine isn't comfortable at first. DuckDuckGo is a happy medium. It's easily the most popular privacy browser on both iOS and Android, with an established privacy-first search engine built on Firefox. They block trackers for you and even grade websites based on their encryption protocol, trackers, and privacy policy. DuckDuckGo is a free, ad-supported service. These ads aren't generated based on your profile and they don't show up on every page, only if you make a search through their service. You can opt-out of these ads if you choose, but they're not intrusive. Plus it's a good way to support them. Here's a link!

If you find it difficult to switch browsers, replace your default app with DuckDuckGo in the same spot on your homepage/dock. Your muscle memory will click it when you want to use a browser!

Signal (Messaging)

Signal is an almost-perfect app with a major downfall. It's sleek, requires no technical knowledge, and is completely end-to-end encrypted. It's also free! So what's the problem? Well as good as Signal is, it only works with other Signal users, so you have to convince all your friends and family to get on it too. And that's a hard sell. My recommendation? Start with the person you communicate with most often and move your messaging to Signal. Slowly but surely, other people will get on board and you'll have more secure communications. Here's their website.

ProtonMail (eMail)

Think of ProtonMail as the "Signal" for email. Once again, everything is end-to-end encrypted and they don't partner with third-party advertising companies. They're based in Switzerland, far from the privacy-invasive laws of other countries. I'm in the process of switching my accounts from Gmail to ProtonMail, so I'm not 100% "in it" yet, but I find it really easy to use. Check them out.

Keybase (Messaging, File Sharing)

Keybase was recently acquired by Zoom, so its future is unclear for now, but they're still one of the best options for teams looking for an alternative for Slack. Signing up is free and all interactions are end-to-end encrypted. Keybase also has features for identity verification. Once you have an account, you can "verify" other online accounts and websites you have for extra security beyond Keybase. Here's that link.

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