This is an examination of the integrity and credibility of the following projects that attempt to advise privacy-focused consumers.
|site||mission statement of purpose|
|de-Google-ify||“These ethical alternatives will help you de-Google-ify your life, have a calmer and far less intrusive online experience.”|
|Frama||“promotion, dissemination and development of free software, enhancement of open source culture, and an online platform of open services.” (full charter)|
|PRISM-Break||“Help make mass surveillance of entire populations uneconomical! We all have a right to privacy, which you can exercise today by encrypting your communications and ending your reliance on proprietary services.”|
|PTIO||“You are being watched. Private and state-sponsored organizations are monitoring and recording your online activities. PrivacyTools provides services, tools and knowledge to protect your privacy against global mass surveillance.”|
|Security Checklist||“An open source checklist of resources designed to improve your online privacy and security. Check things off to keep track as you go.”|
|Surveillance Self-Defense||“our [EFF’s] expert guide to protecting you and your friends from online spying.”|
|Stallman||(advice is tech freedom centric but RMS also has a respectible stance on privacy issues)|
|Switching Software||“Ethical, easy-to-use and privacy-conscious alternatives to well-known software”|
|ThinkPrivacy||“It’s your data. It’s time you take control of it.”|
Why it’s harmful: article
|site||DuckDuckGo endorsement||site’s position & mission are inconsistent||endorsement or condemnation contains misinfo or withholds pitfalls|
|de-Google-ify||yes||yes, if you consider DDG an unethical alternative||site withholds DDG wrongdoing, and makes a positive claim that DDG has no filter bubble (which is disputed)|
|Frama||no (and in fact DDG blacklisted Framabee)||no||n/a|
|PRISM-Break||yes||yes, by economically supporting privacy abusing surveillance capitalists (direct adversaries of the PRISM-Break mission)||site withholds DDG wrongdoing|
|PTIO||yes||yes, financing privacy abusers works against PTIO’s mission.||site cautions about UKUSA, but withholds most DDG wrongdoing|
|Security Checklist||yes||depends on user’s previous tool whether DDG is an improvement||site withholds DDG wrongdoing and also makes unverifiable* claims|
|Surveillance Self-Defense||almost||meh, you decide||Endorsement is kind of implied by TB advocacy & presentation of default search engine without caution|
|Stallman||no||no||page overlooks most DDG issues, but it was only meant to expose one issue|
|Switching Software||yes||yes, if you consider DDG an unethical alternative||site withholds DDG wrongdoing and also makes unverifiable* claims|
|ThinkPrivacy||yes||yes, financing privacy abusers works against TP’s mission.||site withholds DDG wrongdoing and also makes unverifiable* claims|
(*) DDG claims they do not track users, but they cannot prove it. So when a third party like Switching Software or ThinkPrivacy states DDG does not track you, they are asserting something they can’t. They should not be endorsing DDG in the first place, but if they insist, then they should instead say something like “DDG claims not to track you” so as to avoid deceiving people about the verifiability of the claim.
It’s particularly interesting to note that ThinkPrivacy gives the highest endorsement to Startpage, which was bought by US advertising company “System1”. Yet ThinkPrivacy loudly condemns for the very same reason. Why? Dan Arel works for Startpage. This arose out of a scandal where Mr. Arel was advising the privacytools.io project at the time PTIO was considering pulling their endorsement of Startpage.
To be fair, DuckDuckGo has a much more extensive history of undermining privacy both directly and by proxy through partnerships with privacy abusers than Startpage.
While Qwant has some privacy strengths that make it substantially more trustworthy and privacy-respecting than DuckDuckGo, it still has noteworthy issues that undermine privacy:
We won’t document all of Microsoft’s wrongdoing here, but MS has a long history of privacy abuse and still today they are embroiled in privacy scandals such as financial facial recognition technology to AnyVision and violating the GDPR.
|site||Qwant endorsement||site’s position & mission are inconsistent||endorsement misinforms or withholds pitfalls|
|PTIO||yes||yes||site withholds Qwant wrongdoing|
|Switching Software||yes||yes, if you consider Qwant unethical||site withholds Qwant wrongdoing and also makes unverifiable* claims|
It’s worth considering that sites that endorse DuckDuckGo and nothing else are actually more harmful than sites that list other alternatives like Qwant, b/c there is more likeliness that users opt to use DDG when it’s the only endorsed choice.
Privacy has become a very important issue in modern society, with companies and governments constantly abusing their power, more and more people are waking up to the importance of digital privacy.
In this community everyone is welcome to post links and discuss topics related to privacy.
much thanks to @gary_host_laptop for the logo design :)