Categories: Privacy & Security

Seven apps that put privacy first

Nothing online is quite as important as making sure that your privacy is secure and respected by the platforms you choose to carry out your day-to-day tasks. It is no secret, especially in light of recent revelations regarding those platforms, that some services stand to gain more from exploiting your personal information rather than protecting it. That said, there are a number of apps and services whose operations are based around a commitment to being a reliable source of privacy and security for their consumers. Here are a few distinguished examples:

DuckDuckGo

Being entirely anonymous when you search the internet today isn’t easy, but using the search engine DuckDuckGo gets you closer. Their privacy policy in a nutshell? We don’t collect or share personal information. Instead of tracking, saving and sharing your history, DuckDuckGo processes searches using a redirect method that shields your personal information. For example, when you click on a search result in a typical search engine, your personal information is provided to that site, which can allow them to see your search terms. But with DuckDuckGo, the redirect hides your search from the site you go to.

Websites won’t know what has been searched for, only that someone has accessed their site. Essentially, there is no way to track your search history because DuckDuckGo does not log IP addresses or user agents. Encryption (HTTPS) is used to further ensure that search terms will not be sent to other sites. The search engine’s default setting does not use cookies, unless the user goes into the preferences and change it. Additionally, when searches are made, the engine goes ahead and clears results that are riddled with advertisements, offering up clutter-free results instead.

Firefox offers DuckDuckGo as one of the available default engines, which is appealing for user who do not want to be tracked online.

ProtonMail

There is something extremely creepy about knowing that emails between you and your best friend might be read by a third party. Google, for example, has confirmed that some third-party apps can connect to Gmail, allowing human developers to read the contents. With ProtonMail, on the other hand, end-to-end encryption (HTTPS) makes certain that only the sender and receiver have access to their email contents. Not even ProtonMail itself has the ability to gain access to their users’ mail.

WeTransfer

Founded in the Netherlands and used by people around the globe, WeTransfer adheres to a strict code of privacy and data protection by default, abiding by the Dutch Personal Protection Act. All files are encrypted when being transferred, as well as when they are being stored. Only the sender and the recipient have access to the files via a unique link that only they receive. Per WeTransfer’s privacy policy, the platform does not scan the contents of any of the files that are shared through their service. You can even choose to get a link to share the files yourself without providing any email addresses. Plus, WeTransfer is a community-minded organization.

Medium

Unlike so many platforms that collect user data to sell to advertisers, Medium does not make money off of its customers in that fashion. The information they collect is limited to making Medium a more personalized service, combating spam on their platform and understanding what features people prefer. Medium does not send information about you to third parties for advertising purposes, essentially meaning that Medium will not sell you out for a profit. Medium also isn’t interested in what you do outside of their network, and so they do not track your online activity outside of the platform. When you leave Medium, they don’t follow you across the web.

Signal

It seems obvious that private communication should be kept between the people who are involved, yet that is not always the case. With a service like Signal, which provides end-to-end encryption for messaging and voice-calling, private communication can be achieved. Like many of its privacy-respecting counterparts, Signal does not and will not sell your information to third-parties for revenue. Privacy is at the core of Signal’s mission, and they do not view any of the messages sent via its services.

Tor Project

Similar to DuckDuckGo, the Tor browser is committed to providing people with anonymity. The browser is based on Firefox, and shares about 95% of Firefox’s code. That extra 5% allows Tor to implement further privacy protections for its users. Tor routes your traffic through proxies to hide your IP address, and search histories are always immediately deleted―they cannot be viewed by anyone who uses your computer. Tor bounces signals around several times to ensure untraceability for its users, which does make the experience a bit slower. Like all the other services that value privacy, Tor does not make any profit by selling information about its consumers to advertisers.

Firefox Focus

And last, but most certainly not least, there is Firefox Focus, the mobile browser dedicated to privacy. With Firefox Focus, you can rest assured that your web activity is not being tracked by your phone or tablet’s browser, and your history and cookies are erased when you close it. Additionally, content blocking shields users from advertisements that embed hidden data collection trackers. As a result, the browser is quite fast because there is less content to load.

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What do you think? What apps and services do a great job of protecting your privacy?


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2 comments on “Seven apps that put privacy first”

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  1. Franz wrote on

    I use XOTV! Which is a video / content platform putting privacy and creators first.

    Lots of great content and no ads, the site is completely subscription based.

    Definitely worth checking out!
    https://xotv.me

    Full disclaimer, I am the COO of the company. 😉

    Reply

  2. Chris wrote on

    Thanks, this is a great compilation of privacy-first apps! Would love to see Tutanota for email as well, they’ve recently put their app on F-Droid. https://tutanota.com/blog/posts/open-source-email

    Reply

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