Are your conversations being recorded? Is your location being transmitted to advertisers? There’s no doubt Big Tech is listening.
Still, for most of us, ease of use and convenience are our smartphones‘ essential features.
Regardless of which apps you rely on, the most significant aspect of a mobile device is its privacy capabilities or lack thereof. The nice thing about some smartphones is that you can reverse-engineer them.
For starters, which operating system should you be running?
Stock Android, also called pure Android or “vanilla” Android, is the most basic version of the Android operating system developed by Google and runs over the core kernel of Android. The benefit is it hasn’t been changed or redesigned by smartphone manufacturers.
So, what’s up with this trend of people de-googling their Pixel devices, and which Google Pixel do privacy experts recommend?
At the Guns N’ Bitcoin event in Miami recently, I met a fascinating privacy advocate who goes by Like Whoa. I was pleased to have the opportunity to sit and learn from him after his keynote presentation on freedom phones.
In my discussion with Like Whoa, we covered everything from the different companies that make so-called ‘freedom phones’ to the DIY process of overwriting firmware, SIM cards, and SIM swapping.
It may sound like a lot to learn, but Like Whoa insists everyone can benefit from better operational security (OpSec), and the process is well worth it.
“Don’t be afraid to get into privacy. Really, don’t be lazy. Follow the instructions. You don’t have to be a programmer,” Like Whoa told me. “It’s not rocket science most of the time.”
During our interview, Like Whoa shared unique insights that everyone should know about the most private and secure way to get a mobile number.
We also discussed his technical background, various popular mobile devices on the market, and what we expect next in the ongoing battle between liberty and mass surveillance.
Enjoy the full interview here:
In the video above, you’ll discover that downloading and using the right operating system is crucial, but privacy is a spectrum, not an on/off switch.
CalyxOS has been accused of having a leaky firewall that apps can bypass and a leaky VPN tethering implementation. On the other hand, GrapheneOS has a Network toggle without those leaks and prefers the approach of fine-grained VPNs rather than using the same tunnel for everything.
As Freenauts rap in one of my favorite songs, “They watchin’ you, they watchin’ me. Why they watchin’? It’s tyranny!”
Pro tip: Whichever device you use, get a faraday bag for when you immediately need to go dark.
Follow me on Twitter @VamosVigilante.
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