Yesterday was Data Protection Day, which seeks to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices. Data protection and online privacy are issues that I have tended to think about in the abstract. While I am aware that my online data is exposed, I have a hard time motivating myself to do anything serious about it.
However, with the current global direction of travel, I started to think about how much of my data is going through US servers and the obvious first point of concern is Google, particularly Gmail.
Although I have a few email accounts, for the past few years I have been using Gmail as my primary email — and as my email client. The Accounts and Import page make it very easy to set up Gmail to send and receive from all of my email accounts, allowing me to easily synchronise everything across everything. It’s damnably convenient, but a complete disaster from a privacy point of view.
So today I have unplugged every other email account from Gmail. I have also installed and configured Geary on my desktop and started playing around with the default email client on my phone.
It’s not as convenient as letting Google do all the synchronisation for me, but the effort is minimal and it does mean that all of my email is no longer being pushed through the same server.
I haven’t decided whether to keep my Gmail account. It’s handy to have, but not irreplaceable. I shall watch how my email traffic changes over time and decide later. I shall also have to look into calendaring services.
But first, I shall see about scraping the Google Apps off my phone. This should be reasonably straightforward — if all else fails I just need to do a factory reset. But I must remember to take a backup first.