Another in our series of articles exposing governmental and corporate intrusion into our lives...
"Metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content“
~ Stewart Baker, former NSA General Counsel
Metadata...everyone has heard of it, many of us have talked about it, a few of us truly understand it...meanwhile, governments and their law enforcement agencies as well as other data hoarders are collecting it.
So, what and why?
Metadata is something most people just don't realise even exists nor really care about. We all 'know' Facebook, Instagram, Google and the like are using it but most people just don’t care. Sadly, this is as dangerous as the uses to which it is put! Let me give you an extreme example.
'You board a public transport vehicle, and someone who happens to be under surveillance for whatever reason (could be a terrorist or a journalist) sits down in the same vehicle. All completely innocent on your part amd coincidental. BUT the metadata from you both has just been logged! The next week you go into a supermarket and someone else already on a list is there or in proximity and there you are...on a watch-list!'
Sounds extreme? I wish that were the case but it isn't!
Messaging apps like Signal use servers that they claim record minimal amounts of metadata and yet the IP address, contacts and your telephone number, as well as everyone you're communicating with gets time stamped onto this AWS (Amazon) server.
The same AWS that powers many websites, websites you visit, you shop on and you browse daily. Yes, this metadata knows who you are and who you're communicating with. Yes, Signal is encrypted and there is no chat log, but that's not even the problem. It’s about metadata and data, the frenzied way it is collected as well as its misuse thereafter.
Apple has released iOS 14 which contains a small little preview on what gets collected by your apps. And I want to share with you today a little of what I found out about some apps. Frankly, it leaves me wondering and worried in equal measure...
Let’s have a look at this relaxing music app! Why on earth would you need this much information, including Location, Diagnostic, User Data and Other Data for this? There goes the 'chill' factor!
Then, of course, you could insist that you only use apps that respect your privacy, like Element!
And again with the Diagnostics? Directly and indirectly linked to you! On a privacy-friendly decentralized messenger?
Microsoft, regardless of which bit, collects metadata directly linked to you!
I could do a screenshot on what Google and Chrome do but I think this article would then be too long to fit on this screens. They're collecting on an industrial and unexplainable level and then linking meta and real data together.
WhatsApp is one of those apps that shouldn’t ever be considered.
Discord is another privacy nightmare and always been. They sale metadata to Google, Facebook, and many other data agencies, now in talks to be purchased by Microsoft! What could possible be improved?
You tell me, follow us on mastodon and engage in the fight against metadata! And if you are still not on mastodon but be a fan of the birdsite!
And yes, that are the requests twitter takes on you!
This is why I keep saying 'use open-source products!', reason being, you can see what they have embedded in their code...and if they're not open-source then that's a red flag right there.
Get out from under this, run a Linux OS, there aren't many desk or laptops that wouldn’t run with Linux, use Open Office or LibreOffice and check on what privileges your apps are using and collecting. Most apps like Element have counterparts that will perform the same functions without the prying (fluffychat, just to name one).
If you need to use Android ('Google out of the box') and/or iOS (which collects less data) then don’t link it to your real name, address and credit card information.
Bitrefill, for example, can be a great solution to get your load for iTunes (Apple Store) and Google Playstore and you can even locate yourself in a different country.
NextDNS can block many trackers including all Google (not even YouTube would work) and Apple trackers.
Hide your metadata as well as you can, Metadata is evil so you need to contain and control it! It is used in many, many bad ways...
Sadly, I can’t put it any better, people get killed over their metadata, or arrested accidentally and at the lesser end of the scale your data gets linked and sold for reasons we don’t fully understand yet.
My key points in todays EXPOSED!
Check what your apps do
Replace them with more privacy-friendly apps
Use the best encryption you can
Go that extra mile to use less services from Google, Microsoft, Facebook and co.
Stay safe, stay secure and do that by controlling your metadata!