A Phone Experiment

2021-04-30

Like the majority of people who carry smartphones, I’ve stuck to the stock operating system on them over the years. My preference has been for iOS, since I’ve used Apple gear for over 30 years, but I’ve used Android, too. I’ve also come to appreciate that, while I can’t know exactly how phone makers use my information, Apple has less incentive to be evil; they are primarily a hardware company that has a small advertising business, as opposed to Google, which is primarily an advertising company that has a small hardware business. As online advertising necessarily depends on evil, the contrast is obvious.

Which leads to my next point: like many (but probably not the majority), I’ve also been concerned about privacy, tracking, and other associated nefariousness connected with smartphones. My approach is a little less paranoid than some: as the son of a former civilian scientist who held top secret clearances with the US Army, I’ve always assumed the government had a file on me whether I want them to or not. Likewise, I’ve always understood that, for instance, being a homeowner meant my name and home address were public knowledge. I am not looking to, and could not, “disappear” from the internet. It’s just not possible. But, I can also make it a little more difficult for those who would seek to “know” me through my online activities.

So for the month of May (actually, I started this a few days ago, but let’s go with May) I’m trying something new: using a phone without as much tracking/analytics/other evil as I can manage. Here’s how:

As I said, I’m not aiming for a perfectly “invisible” state. I’m still using the same SIM card that I had in my iPhone. I’m still assuming that anyone who really wants to know who I am can probably find out. And I’m not planning on starting a life of crime. I’m just another average dude using a phone. If those doing surveillance are looking for wheat, I’m chaff. But at least I’m making it a little harder for them, while not making things overly hard on myself.

So that’s my plan. After a month or so, I should know if this is really a viable way forward. So far, it looks good; there are just a few habits and behaviors that will need adjustment, which will come with time.


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