Mobile phones and the cloud – How to protect your privacy

Protection of private information is a fundamental prerequisite in democratic, non-totalitarian systems to avoid excessive control by any government or other powerful group to the point, where no change of the system is possible by individual citizens. Mobile phones play a crucial role across the globe now. While the range of hardware  is more diverse, the range of software is very limited with Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS operating systems and their integrated cloud services. The access of global operating IT giants whose headquarters are located in the USA, which has become politically unstable developing towards totalitarianism and imperialism, to personal data should raise awareness in individual users and explore options which are independent of major corporations.

Without going deeper into the discussion of privacy problems of Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iOS, I just want to point out that the Android OS, although open-source, strongly depends on the proprietary Google Mobile Services to use the Google Play Store and many of its applications. Access to relevant patents have been used by the US government in the trade war with China, preventing Chinese manufacturers, like Huawei, from pre-installing Android OS and the Google Play Store on their mobile phone products leading to a decrease of sales. Apple has recently announced to implement the scanning images locally on iphones before (!) end-to-end-encryption to identify unlawful (eg child abuse) or immoral content (eg adult images on children’s phones) content, which was heavily critized by IT security expert and whistleblower Edward Snowden  [2].

Therefore, I would like to describe the setup of my mobile phone, operating system and cloud services which are more independent of major IT corporations:

  • Operating System: /e/ OS (Android-based, degoogled), https://e.foundation/
  • App Repositories:
    • default (e OS)
    • Aurora (anonymous access to Google Play Store)
    • F-Droid
  • Cloud Services:
    • Nextcloud (eg via owncube.com)
    • Apps:
      • Nextcloud: File Syncing
      • Nextcloud/Bookmarks: Bookmark Syncing
      • Nextcloud/Notes: Note Syncing
      • Nextcoud/Deck: Kanban-style task syncing
      • Nextcloud/Talk: Messenger
      • Nextcloud/Yaga: Foto Gallery
      • FolderSync Pro: Backup with file versioning to Nextcloud and local NAS drive
      • DAVx5: Calendar & Contacts syncing (CARDDAV, CALDAV, WEBCAL)
      • ICSx5: Subscription to local and remote ical (ics) calender files

References:
[1] https://techcrunch.com/2021/08/05/apple-icloud-photos-scanning/
[2] https://edwardsnowden.substack.com/p/all-seeing-i

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