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March 20, 2024 | Becoming Invisible, Part 13: Glenn Meder Explains “De-Googled” Phones

John Rubino is a former Wall Street financial analyst and author or co-author of five books, including The Money Bubble: What to Do Before It Pops and Clean Money: Picking Winners in the Green-Tech Boom. He founded the popular financial website in 2004, sold it in 2022, and now publishes John Rubino’s Substack newsletter.

Three days after privacy expert Glen Meder offered a free cryptocurrency seminar (to which I posted a link here), he published a primer on removing Google’s malign presence from Android phones. The guy is on a roll. Below is an excerpt from that post.

But first, the usual disclaimer: I don’t profit in any way from highlighting other people’s work. Think of these “heads up” posts as a friend forwarding a potentially useful link.

How To Stop Your Phone from Spying on You

Admit it, you take your smartphone with you everywhere.

It sits on your nightstand while you talk in your sleep. It accompanies you to work, to school, to the grocery store, and to the gas station. It’s a third wheel on intimate dinner dates with your spouse and at important business lunches with your clients. It probably even entertains you while you do your business in the bathroom.

You chat with your friends on your smartphone more than you do in person. You text your doctor questions from your phone more often than you visit his office.

Not only that . . . but your smartphone is in your pocket when you confide your innermost secrets to your pastor or your therapist.

It sees what apps you use and what websites you visit. It knows what you spend your money on, and what games you like to play.

You and your smartphone are joined at the hip.

Your smartphone does spy on you. It betrays you. It tattles on you. It allows people the world over to peer into your private life. It allows governments to illegally track you and monitor you, and they use your information against you.

As the saying goes, information is power. And when they have information ABOUT you, they have power OVER you.

We all remember when, 12 years ago, Edward Snowden revealed that NSA spy programs could turn on our phone’s microphone or camera under any pretext. That revelation alone confirmed that our iPhones and Androids are high-tech versions of Benedict Arnold. They betray us behind our backs.

Knowing that our phones are purposely made to be trojan horses that spy on us, can we do anything to protect ourselves from their treachery?

Yes. But before I explain, let me share some shocking statistics. Around the world, 4.8 billion people use smartphones. More than 98% of these smartphones use one of two operating systems—either iPhone, which is produced by Apple, or Android, which is controlled by Google.

In other words, if a government wants to spy on its own citizens, it needs to compromise only those two companies.

Google has developed a reputation for questionable ethics, which at one time were supposedly embodied in the slogan “Do no evil.” These days, though, Google is at the very heart of many evils that are being perpetrated across the planet.

But Apple can’t be trusted either. Although it convincingly plays the role of the good guy, Apple showed its true colors on November 9, 2022.

That’s when Apple removed the “AirDrop” feature from devices in Hong Kong and China. The Airdrop feature allowed people to communicate via direct connections between phones, thus bypassing China’s stringent control of the internet.

But on November 9 two years ago, Apple released an update to its operating system. Rather than listing the changes, as it often does, the company simply said, “This update includes bug fixes and security updates and is recommended for all users.” But hidden in this update was a change that only applied to iPhones sold in China and Hong Kong.

In other words, Apple betrayed its customers by submitting to an inhumane and autocratic dictate from the Chinese government. Don’t think that Apple won’t do the same in collusion with the US government.

So, let’s get back to the question, “What can you do to protect yourself from your snooping phone?”

The answer: Use a de-Googled Android OS on your phone.

Unlike the iPhone, the Android operating system is open source. This means we can see what is going on in the operating system and, better yet, we can modify it to ensure that everything in it that communicates with Google is stripped out.

There are many different de-Googled operating systems, including Calyx, Murena, and eFoundation. The best, and the one that I use, is called Graphene OS.

Not only does Graphene OS strip Google out of the equation, it adds many additional privacy and security features. After investigating them all, I believe Graphene OS is the most private and secure phone operating system on the market.

If you are familiar with Android phones now, switching to Graphene OS will be a breeze. If you are used to iPhones, it will take a little bit of adjustment.

There are two ways to get the Graphene OS. First, you can purchase a phone with Graphene OS preinstalled (click here) or, second, you can install Graphene OS on your own phone yourself—assuming you have a compatible phone. Click here to learn how to install Graphene OS yourself (use this option only if you are technically inclined).

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March 20th, 2024

Posted In: John Rubino Substack

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