In a Reuters article from May 1, 2019, European Council President Donald Tusk warned of the rising power of tech giants such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. According to Reuters, “In the East, we see the rise of those capable of controlling everyone’s behavior, and in the West we’ve seen the rise of an uncontrolled, spontaneous empire,” Tusk said in reference to the companies while delivering a speech in Warsaw for Constitution Day.
This guy is right. China and parts of the Eastern world are controlling internet behavior and shaping the lives of their people while the Western world is using relatively untamed internet behavior to build wealth through the gathering and selling of personal data. Both are equally scary—albeit opposite—extremes on the spectrum.
The crazy part is that there is nothing you can do about it—unless you’re willing to take extreme measures. The rest of the world may already be a lost cause, but for those of us who live in America, we still have the chance to take back our personal lives—and what used to be private online information—from these tech giants.
One of the most obvious means of doing so, but also among the most difficult for some to accept, is to reject the use of their platforms, or at the very least limit and compartmentalize our use of them. Tying your Facebook or Google account to everything you do online is a bad idea for many reasons. Among them is the fact you’re giving those companies some level of access to more of your information than you realize, and as a byproduct of that, you become more and more dependent on their services to support the online ecosystem you’ve created. If you want to use Google or Facebook, that’s fine. But instead of using that Google account for your banking, health insurance, home utilities, and all other accounts, set up something like a ProtonMail email account or MySudo phone number. Instead of using your personal debit or credit card, which tie all of your paid services and online purchases together, you can use masked payment services so the only information your bank and the tech giants will see about you is limited and generic.
It’s also worth noting that there are alternatives to these tech giants. The biggest obstacle for many users is the fact that these large tech companies offer their services for free, and switching to another, more secure option could mean subscription fees or other ancillary costs. However, you’re not just paying for the platform. If you choose correctly, you’re paying for true privacy. The only reason Google provides you services for free is because the company is gathering and selling your data for exorbitant prices to third parties.
One of the most important things you can do is begin using a VPN (virtual private network) to access the internet while using your devices and home network. Doing so will limit the useful (and sensitive) information that your internet service provider and tech giants can see about you. If nothing else, make it difficult for them to collect your data and build their empire using your private information.