KEY POINTS SUMMARIZED
1. FOSS is NOT necessarily anti-tracking, anti-analytics or anti-surveillance. FOSS isn’t the solution if these things are what you want. FOSS ‘may’ free you from Google, but not necessarily from tracking.
2. FOSS platforms CAN have contributions (in the form of apps) from large corporations (like Google, Facebook, etc.) or intelligence agencies. App developers are often anonymous, and there is no assurance that they aren’t working for a large corporation, intelligence agency or even a hacking group.
3. Apps may be masquerading as open source, when it is quite possible that only some of the libraries used in the app are open source, and there are hidden codes within the app that aren’t actually open source.
4. There is no accountability/ audits for FOSS platforms. While they may make the platform available with good intent, there is immense scope for the same to be exploited.
5. If tracking and surveillance is something that you want to seriously avoid, there is ONLY ONE WAY: don’t use gadgets and stay away from internet.
I guess most users in this forum are those who are looking for ANTI-TRACKING solutions. Some, including myself, are quite happy with Google products and services. The reason being the benefits outweigh the costs, and more importantly the fact that there is no clear understanding of what these costs are, or to put it differently, what risks are associated with so-called costs.
I believe, in the absence of convincing explanations, the risks are overstated and much of the paranoia is based on hypothetical situations/ circumstances. You can’t have meaningful output without an input. A doctor can’t prescribe correct medication if you don’t tell him/ her the problems correctly. You have to let go of privacy if you want to solve a problem.
Having said that, I won’t be surprised if Google, Apple, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Intel, AMD, etc. (who essentially cover the major OSes and Hardware all over the world, and used by more than 90% of the world population) are all companies run/ monitored by intelligence agencies. A country’s military (or surveillance system) is estimated to be about 20 years advanced in terms of technology (I read this somewhere) available commercially/ publicly. They have the tools/ technology to bypass security systems known/ available commercially. So while we may think that we have a foolproof security system in place, it could well be just a false sense of comfort. If you are online, you can be tracked, you can be monitored.
Most people in this forum, are NOT anti-Google. Instead, they are anti-Tracking. Google is just one company that tracks you because of it’s business model. Going Google-less, may actually mean little, if your intent is to avoid surveillance. Open-source projects, VPNs, etc may just be adding a layer or two to make it difficult to track you, but then none of it is foolproof.
I strongly think that many of the open-source projects could well be products of intelligence agencies or even corporations like Google itself. It is just that they are marketed in a way to make you believe that you are free from tracking/ Google. The reality could be far from it. Even if the code is available for audit, we have to remember:
- No one (reputed and reliable) is auditing it CONTINUOUSLY.
- The tools and technology known/ available commercially are not enough to track codes that are built-in using technology that are way more advanced than what is commercially known/ available.
This might sound like a conspiracy theory, but this could well be true.
Also, many apps are often touted as open-source to mislead users. Apps often have closed-source codes, but may include a few open-source libraries and this aspect is misrepresented to give the impression that the app itself is open-source. So this is another thing one must keep in mind.
What do you think?