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Discussion Starter #1
I am not tech smart, nor articulate, so I am not too sure how to even ask the question.
The situation:
My Grandsons gave us (and installed) a Google Home mini. Damn thing had recorded every bit of interaction . So I boxed it up, went into google settings on my phone and paused everything.

It got me thinking about privacy again...

Is there any way to be completely Google-free on an android (Samsung/LG) phone (or an ipad too)? I don't use a computer.
Thanks in advance.
M.M
 

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Android comes from Google and OEMs wishing to use it are contractually bound to include certain Google services and apps: https://www.theinformation.com/arti...al-Android-Contracts-Show-Rising-Requirements

For iOS (iPad), you can change Safari's default search engine away from Google in Settings. Keep in mind that using any Google apps (e.g., YouTube, GMail) or visiting any of their sites on your iPad will entangle you in their tentacles.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you for your reply. It seems that the answer is not at all.
What about rooting the phone and not installing any google related apps? I would have to find someone to do it for me.
M.M.
 

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Android is so tightly integrated with Google services that trying to disable them all would cripple the phone.

There are ways to obtain a Google free phone. Those are to use a POTS phone, buy a dumb flip phone or an iPhone. Even with an iPhone, care must be exercised to not install any Google products or apps that use Google services. The prime example would be Google Chrome browser.

Even then, almost every web page (this site included) uses Google tracking and ad services to generate revenue so any browser use needs to be avoided or limited in some way. The use of a browser that blocks ads and actively blocks tracking attempts by web pages would be required. A proxy service that blocks tracking and ads may also help.

In addition, why stop at Google? Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and most social or retail sites and apps engage in tracking and obtaining personal data. To avoid it completely, use a POTS line or burner flip phone purchased with cash and never use a computer unless it's a completely anonymous public computer paid for with cash. Avoid creating any online personal accounts or providing any personal information.

Large chain stores track their customers so don't shop at stores such as Walmart, Home Depot, etc. Credit card companies track customers so never use one. Banks also track their customers so always uses cash. Stay away from public places with surveillance cameras. And so on....
 

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I misunderstood. Yes of course if records every single interaction with the device.... I thought the OP was saying it was recording non-Google Home activity as well - my bad.

That being said, of course they record all sorts of stuff. They need to make money for all of these services they give you for no monetary cost. But there is a price to pay.
 

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There is always the potential for these types of devices to get hacked and used for listening by unknown third parties. Haven't heard of it happening with Google Home but it's a matter of when it will happen and how widespread it will be, not if it will happen.
 

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If you value your privacy and security, go see the Marketplace episode about connected houses.

Be it a thermostat, door camera, night light, IP cameras, anything that is connected though internet, we ARE toast. They even hacked someones house on purpose to prove it. They were able to disarm their alarm and unlock the door. And the cameras that were meant for privacy....oh dear. :eek:
 

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Yes, but the people they "hacked" hadn't bothered to properly configure any of the (IOT) equipment, leaving default passwords, etc.

I'm sure that anything can be hacked by a determined real hacker, however, in the Marketplace episode it was just people being lazy and not reading/following installation instructions (which is the case for too many people these days).
 

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The MarketPlace episode (I did watch it some time ago), and almost all of the IP cams visible on devious sites on the net, etc, are due to people not doing their due diligence to change default passwords or use strong & unique passwords. If setup properly it's quite difficult to hack into home IOT devices.

Same with account take-overs. Reports of Gmail or Twitter accounts or whatever being hacked is almost never due to those services themselves. Rather, some other small vendor account like your neighborhood online pizza or flower ordering's site was hacked and didn't store credentials securely. From that the bad actor gets usernames and passwords and then just mass-tries them against other larger sites (like the ones mentioned). Due to password reuse - that's how the bad actor gets in.

Three mandatory online security principles to live by:
  1. Use a well renowned password manager (i.e. Lastpass or similar - not an Excel spreadsheet) and set it up properly/securely.
  2. Use unique and strong passwords everywhere (should go without saying: change all defaults).
  3. Turn on 2FA for anything and everything that supports it.

There's flaws with everything (recent reports of 2FA issues) but if someone follows those three principles at a minimum your chances of a compromise are minimized.
 

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I agree with you guys. Most of the time, reason people are hacked are due to ignorance. Every manual seem to tell you to change the basic password of "INSERT ITEM" when you set it up.

Can you imagine? I know people who don't believe in using anti viruses for their PC. I never accept anything from them. Email or USB/CD/DVD. Nada.
 

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...almost all of the IP cams visible on devious sites on the net, etc, are due to people not doing their due diligence to change default passwords or use strong & unique passwords. If setup properly it's quite difficult to hack into home IOT devices.
It's more the fault of the device makers not doing their due diligence. They need to ensure that IOT devices cannot be used with default security settings and insecure passwords. This is basic security that has been well known for many years but many device makers still fail to do it. For example, my internet router will not work unless a password is set by the user. Passwords also need to contain a minimum number of characters and character types. Any device that can be just plugged in and will then operate with a public IP address, default login and well known password is defective. That describes many digital surveillance cameras and internet routers.
 

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Three mandatory online security principles to live by:
Also, use a VPN and don't allow direct access to those devices from the Internet. It's also a good idea to put them on their own subnet. Some security camera DVRs have 2 network connections, one for the cameras and one for the network the computers are on. This makes it impossible to reach the cameras or other devices directly from the main network.
 

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To answer the original question, there are some google-free Android ROMs out there, but whether they have support for your particular phone is an entirely different question. And even then, you should expect the experience of using your phone to be significantly diminished as a result, not to mention that the process of getting the OS changed (and keeping it up to date) is not trivial.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you for all of your advice. My apologies for not responding earlier; serious health issues in the family.
I guess I am not going to be able to be "google free" as most of the things discussed are over my head, though I have heard of Lineage OS and some other things. I shall keep reading and hopefully learning.
MM
 

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Phone - Use an iPhone or flip phone.

PC - Use Windows, Linux or Apple systems. Microsoft does a fair bit of tracking so Windows needs to have tracking disabled with something like Spybot Anti-beacon.

Browsers - Avoid Chrome and any other browser based on Chrome. These days that's just about all except Safari or Firefox.

Search engines - Use DuckDuckGo as the default search engine. Disable or remove Google search.

Browser add-ons - Use a cookie blocker to block cookies from Google. Use an add-on such as No-script to block scripts from Google. Use an ad blocker such as uOrigin. Use a privacy suite such as DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials. Some sites will stop working if these are used. Add exceptions for trusted sites but some Google scripts may need to be allowed.

Privacy apps - Use programs such as CCleaner, MalwareBytes AntiMalware or SuperAntiSpyware and to delete cookies and other tracking artifacts from the PC. Schedule them to run regularly or with events such as closing the browser.

Avoid "smart" TVs, and other smart devices of all types. Avoid any Google services such as Google Home and Gmail. Services and companies such as Twitter, Facebook, Amazon and similar services can be as bad or worse than Google when it comes to tracking privacy.

Last but not least, move to the wilderness and live off the land.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanķs, but I am not a i-fan, too much money grabbing in my experience, and I want a sd card ( and battery, but that is pretty much gone now ) that I can remove. Is Blackberry an option, or is it tangled up with Google too?
M.M.
 
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