To buy his favorite oatmeal, Gregory Kelly drives to a city 40 miles away rather than sharing his data with an online retailer, or purchasing it from the company’s web site, “which he says is riddled with tracking software from Google,” according to the Washington Post: “I’m just not sure why Google needs to know what breakfast cereal I eat,” the 51-year-old said. Kelly is one of a hearty few who are taking the ultimate step to keep their files and online life safe from prying eyes: turning off Google entirely. That means eschewing some of the most popular services on the Web, including Gmail, Google search, Google Maps, the Chrome browser, Android mobile operating software and even YouTube. Such never-Googlers are pushing friends and family to give up the search and advertising titan, while others are taking to social media to get the word out. Online guides have sprouted up to help consumers untangle themselves from Google.
These intrepid Web users say they’d rather deal with daily inconveniences than give up more of their data. That means setting up permanent vacation responders on Gmail and telling friends to resend files or video links that don’t require Google software. More than that, it takes a lot of discipline.
While there’s no data on how many people are avoiding Google, the article points out that DuckDuckGo is now averaging 42.4 million searches every day — up from 23.5 million a year ago.
But at least one Berkeley tech consultant acknowledged that “the improvement is mostly in the category of self-righteousness.” Seeking an office software with better privacy protections, he’s now paying $100 a year for a subscription to Microsoft Office 365.