Lost Among Europeans

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Improving net privacy

I’ve been becoming more conscious of my privacy on the internet. It has led me, on one hand, to use the Privacy Badger and uBlock browser extensions, to switch to DuckDuckGo as my default search engine, to review my social networking settings.

But I am also a gentleman website-and-domain-owner, a citizen of the ’net.

I decided to act on the nagging of browsers, when viewing my own website, that it was not served over HTTPS. I had been wanting to address that for years. In the last months, I had to learn how to set up LetsEncrypt certificates for work, and wondered why my web hosting provider (GoDaddy) charged extra for SSL certs that could be had for free.

I looked up the list of hosting providers with full LetsEncrypt support, and picked domainname.shop, which is austere and to-the-point, perfect for me. Automatic HTTP to HTTPS redirection is configurable with a simple checkbox, prominent in the domain config page.

The privacy browser extensions had been complaining about trackers and cookies served by my site, courtesy of disqus, Google Analytics, Google Fonts. I had to work a bit on my content to ensure that embedded photos and videos were linked via HTTPS, to serve fonts myself, and to eliminate all trackers and cookies.

Today, my site doesn’t leave any sort of crap on your browser.

Finally, email. My friend J.P. showed me how to access the list of purchases that Google keeps on one’s account. The Amazon bills were there, but Amazon already knows a lot about me (plus I worked for them 3 years), so I didn’t feel more spied on than usual. But, everything else was also there. All purchases made on all accounts. All thanks to my habit, encouraged by Gmail, to archive, not delete, messages. One ring to rule them all.

I’ve bought an account on Mailfence. I like that it’s a paid service. I like that they use standard protocols. (Gmail has its own version of not-quite IMAP). I like that they’re European, and spare, and to-the-point.
I’ve started switching my billing contacts over.

It’s a cliché, but it’s true: if you’re not the customer, you’re the product.