Android, Social Media, Privacy and Information Freedom


The nature of your online presense is a complicated topic. The internet is no longer in its early stages of development. It has become integral in almost everyone's day to day life, with many benefits. Everyday though we decide to trade some amount privacy, freedom and autonomy for convenience, efficiency or just enjoyment. And to be clear there is nothing necessarily wrong with that. Societies have been making trades like this forever.

My point is only to be mindful of what you are trading. How much do you need to surrender, for how much more convenience? Just think about before you install that next app, get an account with the latest Social Media company, or choose an internet company to do business (or pleasure) with.

Different people will have different concerns about their online presence, fortunately we can try to categorize these and then people can rate the importance of the different dimensions of software freedom. And even more fortunately the implementation of the tools that help preserve these freedoms can often benefit multiples at once. One of the best examples of this are the differing ideals of the Open Source and Free Software movements are both benefited by tools like the GNU Public License (GPL). So effort of one group can help us all.

Dimensions of Information Freedom: * Privacy * Security (freedom from Attack) * Anonymity * Speech * Thought * Action * Openess * Federation * Assembly Community to gather * Use Tools * Learn * Expression * From Government overreach * From Corporate Influence * Travel (no arbitrary lock in) * Rapid Advancement * From misinformation * Make

Tools: * Open Community driven databases. (Wikipedia, Open Street Maps) * Open Standards (JSON, XML, HTTP) * Federated Protocols ( Email, XMPP, SIP ) * Open Source Software * Encryption * Software Licenses * the diverse marketplace of ideas

My personal view may color my technical suggestions, so you should know them. I think openness is more important than the most extreme of privacy concerns. I believe in the importance of federated protocols in communications. I think the ability to change vendors is important. I generally trust the US government, which is probably easier as a US citizen. They are not perfect, but at least the restrictive checks and balances encourages the 49% to call out the 51% when they step out of line. And maybe most importantly the freedom to make and modify.

How To

E-mail Hosts

Email is a great federated protocol. Anyone can today run their own e-mail server on a $5 linode.

Run your own Mail Server: I run Postfix+dovecot+Sogo, though I've considered adding owncloud to the mix and probably would if I was to start again.

Find a community or smaller mail service that is more likely to respect your privacy. Maybe one that supports end to end encryption. I've heard good things about ProtonMail.

Smart Phone

Apple iOS does spy on you less than Google Android, but it locks you in to Apple for almost everything. I think the cost is just too high. And there are a number of things you can do with open source android to make it more freedom friendly. For example, remove all the Google bits you don't need.

Level Android OS
Level 1 Stock
Level 2 Stock with alternate App Store
Level 3 Stock with F-Droid
Level 4 Lineage OS with OpenGapps
Level 5 Lineage OS with NanoDroid
Level 6 Lineage OS with Only F-Droid
Level 7 Replicant

LineageOS is an open-source fork of android that is entirely community supported. This version has only the bare minimum of functionality needed to bring up the android system. by default it doesn't even have an app store. However, you can get that functionality back through the openGapps project which repackages the official google apps for inclusion on such a device. There is a project that also tries to replace all the google core apps with open-source alternatives. It is called NanoDroid. It has its own version of the Google Play Services, which allows many apps including Google Maps to run on the device. It has a curated list of other standard apps to fill in for missing apps such as gmail and twitter. And it also has a way to install free apps from the official google play store.



Instant Messaging (IM)


Simple Search


Firefox Fennec F-Droid


Amazon App Store Google Play Store F-droid

I'm a really big fan of android. I decided to compile here all of my findings with android.

I have a G1. I've since rooted it and am now running the cyanogen froyo rom CM6. It is great. I reccomend it. I partially created this list to keep track of what I installed when I blow out configurations and reinstall. It should be kept resonably upto date , and is a live document. I have divided the list of apps into catgories suchas requires root. I hope this is helpful.

I'm also have a debian chroot running on my phone for improved shell access. I'm a firm believe in compcache and will probably add a swap partition back to my phone soon.

Top Apps

Top Apps requiring root

Top games

Hopefully there will be more info here soon.