Why it's Time to Distance from your Apple and Google Phone

You are losing your Internet privacy and Internet security every day if you don't fight for it. Your data is collected with permanent data mining and used for obscure purposes, most of the time without any user consent.

Back in the day, there was always a lot of resistance to embedding any kind of chip in our body. Today these chips like RFID are common and we still have a lot of resistance to having these imposed on us. But the Big Tech found a solution to this. The vast majority of us carry the “chip” in the pocket all the time, and feed it endlessly with sensitive data, and - sadly - most of it without real purpose other that the drive of being trendy or popular on Social Media.

backups for all your data

Please note: On iOS devices there are no solutions for privacy, the iPhone is locked and all the spyware is built in. One will never have control on his privacy while using an iPhone or an iPad. There is nothing you can do other then stop using them entirely.


For this reason, we will refer in the following only to Andorid (Google) devices.

Is it possible to stay anonimous on the internet ?

It can be hard to stay anonimous on the internet but with a bit of awareness and discipline the digital footprint can be greatly reduced. The big companies, small companies, Service Providers and Governamental entities spy continuously every move we make.The spying starts with wi-fi scanning, continues with telemetry, device fingerprinting, browser fingerprinting, biometric data and so on.

Can you really avoid surveillance while using a smartphone?
Are there any solutions to the overreach of the tech giants?

You can use a smartphone with LineageOS pretty much the same as an Andorid one. LineageOS is the free and opensource part of Andorid. Which means is Andorid less the Google part. Using a LineageOS phone instead of using a stock Andorid phone allows you to not be the subject of wi-fi scanning, telemetry based spying, device fingerprinting, browser fingerprinting, biometric data spying and in-app build spying through Google Services.

We like to call such device as a de-Google-ed (Google free) device.


We recommend the use of 2 mobile phones, one (Andorid) with Google and (if you realy cannot resist the temptation !) facebook apps and the other LineageOS for the rest of your activity.

Top reasons to use a de-Google-ed phone

As we just said a little earlier, using a LineageOS phone instead of using a stock Andorid phone allows you to not be subjected to wi-fi scanning, telemetry based spying, device fingerprinting, browser fingerprinting, biometric data spying and in-app build spying through Google Services. We will talk briefly about some of those issues in the following material.

Wifi triangulation and Wifi scanning

Your device is scanning for networks continuously. Google records the routers around (yours and your neighbours) and their MAC addresses and update their map all the time. Together with the power of their signal (and the GPS position given by the phone’s sensor) they can triangulate your location to less then half a meter error margin. This is done all day, so every mobile phone user is located continuously with great accuracy. This is more accurate than any other location method and the process cannot be stopped on a Google (or Apple) phone. This happens regardless of the location permission that you might grant or not ( which is only for the third party apps - Google exempts itself no matter your option). So Google knows every Andorid's position all the time with great accuracy.

The network scanning data and wifi triangulation data on LineageOS devices is not transmited to Google or other external players.

Location tracking

Location tracking is one of the most complex an difficult to prevent because most applications are desperate to access it, and they do it most of the time without the user knowledge. Most of the photos taken with a Google smartphone have a location metadata. Every website visited on a Google devices can reveal your location and report it to base. facebook apps track your location irrespective of your privacy settings. Many other apps (especially weather apps, but many others, including camera or even the flashing light) send your location to Google. The info is aggregated and analysed, therefore it can reveal more then just your pure location. Thing like groups, contacts, shopping patterns, working patterns, visits to the doctor, banks, courts of law, and so on are actively used for detail profiling. What’s more, almost all this data can be available to third parties if they pay, so not only governments but also insurers, employers, lenders and others can have access to it.

Location tracking data on LineageOS devices is not transmited to Google or other external players.

Google telemetry

Google Services are the secret link to the Google empire. For a better understanding of this you have to understand Google infrastructure. All apps in Google St0re have to conform with the Google imposed standards. They have to be written in Java and packed in a particular way. Most of the time even the developer cannot understand how the Google libraries function, they only make the app to function with the API provided. So a lot of the activity of many apps actually involve using Google functionality, like databases, notification infrastructure, payment infrastructure, specific telemetry, location, user data infrastructure an so on. Google updates its data all the time using not only its resources, but also the resources of the third party apps running on your phone.

Some important sensors on Andorid devices are: GPS, Accelerometer, Magnetometer, Gyroscope and IMU (inertial measurement unit)

The phone sensors on LineageOS devices are not used to transmit data to Google or other external players unless you install apps with such capabilities without checking. Even then, this data will not be associated with your Google ID.

Biometric recognition:
Facial Recognition and Fingerprint Recognition

The tech has overtaken us. It is no longer necessary to have a chip since our face and fingerprints are fixed biometrics that we cannot escape from. We have a reprieve in 2020 with facial recognition because many of us have to wear masks. But can we keep hiding our face? Should we keep hiding our face?

Facial recognition data is collected in new ways today. This has expanded in ways that most people don't even realize.The covering with masks , hats, hoods or sunglases is not helping, since the new trend is to use infrared technology. The heat distribution in our body is truly unique, based not only on the shape of the area in question but also on blood circulation. There is no secret that the biometric sensors on your phone collect and report this kind of data to Google.

Biometric recognition data on LineageOS devices is not transmited to Google or other external players.

Firmware spying

There are parts of your phone constantly collecting data and leaking that data to base. You cannot stop this on a stock phone. This is being used by powerful players like Google, amazon and facebook to track who we are connected to and what places we frequent. In addition, there are some backdoors that allow third parties (state players included) to listen and record the conversations, capture text messages, emails and other means of communications and even turn on the phone remotely to allow recordings.

Firmware spying can also occur on LineageOS devices. The binary blobs in the firmware are largely on the discretion of the manufacturer. This issue is highly uncontrolable and hard to impossible to audit. Circumspection is advisable especially with the chinese manufacturers!!

Device fingerprinting

The fingerprint of a given device uniquely identifies the device. It comprise of any piece of data that identifies the phone among all other phones in existence. It includes the IMEI, IMSI, hardware specifics, MAC Addresses (wi-fi and Bluetooth) Notification tokens, user ID (Google ID / Apple ID), IP Address, apps installed, Router MAC Address (when connected to a wifi), saved debit/credit cards, Device User Identifier of the Browser and some others. Notice that an app does not have to acquire all of them. They can be correlated with the past activity, other apps data or Google databases. Moreover, a Google ID / Apple ID have a one-to-one match to a real identity. This ID is also associated with financial identity.
Some explanations of those terms are detailed bellow.

The device fingerprinting is used to identify the user. Needless to say, this is done most of the time without the user permission.

Device fingerprinting data on LineageOS devices is not transmited to Google or other external players.

Browser fingerprinting

Browser fingerprinting is one of the most accurate ways to track a particular device on the internet. When matched with other data like email, IP Address,location, device model, CPU model, screen size, browser window size, browser position, graphics card, battery level, browser version, browser extensions, operating system, time zone, cookies, visited addresses and others, the effect is major. There is no surprise that a given user can be picked up from the crowd by Google based on browser fingerprinting data alone. For example, if an add tracker identifies a visit to lets say Y0uTube, then amazon, then other random site, it can be determined that it was the same device and then the events can be easily correlated. The add tracker will give a user an ID at first encounter, then it will use the same ID at subsequent encounters and the available data will be collected and processed. With Google, this is possible because the same add tracker will be present in multiple websites. This way, Google adds will track you all over the internet. Those trackers collect informations beyond the scope of serving adds only, as they are often presented by Google, but not exclusively. They also collect location, for example. And because it can be matched to your phone, it will be easy to observe all the places you’ve been. This is sold to data mining companies. The browser fingerprint can be matched now to an IP and an email address used to log in an website. You as the user are now associated with this fingerprint and the data will be accumulated about you. There is no easy escape from this point. Even if you change the browser, you will use the same data for login and you will visit roughly the same websites, so your identity will be easily recognisable. One of the scariest propagators of Browser Fingerprinting is facebook. Because the facebook L1ke button is in essence an add tracker, every website with a L1ke button has an active spyware. So after browsing the internet , the moment you log in facebook you are unmistakeably identified and all data associated with you like friends, contacts, and so on become a big database. This extreme tracking is unmatched even by the big Governmental players. They are not concerned though, they can always buy your data (and they will someday) without being accused of direct mass surveillance or other wrongdoing. This is one of the reasons facebook is one of the biggest violator of internet privacy. If you use facebook and the associated apps, all your internet activity will be attached to your real identity. As long as you stick with the facebook account, nothing will prevent the theft of your info. The only good decision would be to leave facebook. There are other platforms out there. Hard pill to swallow for many, I know that!

If you use facebook and/or other facebook owned apps on LineageOS devices you can nulify half of the effort spent for your privacy. facebook will know who you are and will sell your data to whoever wants to buy it without any remorse and, of course, without any warning or notification.

Browser fingerprinting data propagation is highly dependent on the browser, search engine and apps you have installed and use. An add blocker will make a lot of difference. Some care should be taken and awarness is advisable when deciding the utilisation patterns.

Can you get apps from the Google Store without Google Store and Google Services?

Actually, there is a way. Aurora Store, Aurora Play Store and/or microG.

Aurora Store is available on F-Droid

Aurora Play Store

Aurora Play Store actually takes the app from Google Play Store. It anonymize the request made to Google store with a fake gmail account and a spoofed device id. So Google doesn’k know who is downloading the app. It works only for free apps and those apps which do not require a personalized id or Google services to function. Notification will not work.

MicroG

MicroG is the Google Services spoofer for notifications and location creates services that emulate the Google services. An app talks to microG, which anonymize the request (even for Notifications, Location Services and Google Maps), then forwards it to Google. So the app will work but Google will not know the user’s real identity.

How to get a de-Google-ed mobile phone?

Teoreticaly, the LineageOS software is open source, therefore free for anyone to use. You would install LineageOS on your phone without the Google Services bundle and you would be ready to use it.

The practical side of it is a little differnt though. Each manufacturer has its own firmware (drivers) and they install the software following the Google specification. The bootloader is generally locked in order to prevent the user to modify the software.

Are there any solutions to bypass the locked bootloader?

Yes there are. But the process is tedios and the risk of bricking (iremediably damaging) the device is very high. Aditionaly, each model demands a different approach. Even for the same model, there are different things to consider for each hardware combination.

Warning

The atempt to modify the software of a mobile phone carry a high risk of permanently damaging the device. You have been warned!

We can offer phones with LineageOS already installed and ready to use.

We sell different models of de-Google-ed mobile phones with LineageOS already installed and configured for everyday use. If you decide to try one, send us a message at phones@6b6.co or search on eBay or openBazaar with the search term "degoogled". If nothing there at a given moment, please try again in a few days. The seller name is linux-abc. The offer is always subjected to availability.