Leaving Google: A Prologue

With the recent news that Google’s updated privacy policy allows them to share information they collect about you between their services, I’ve made the decision to opt out. I’m leaving Google, completely. I’m not saying it’s the right decision for everyone, but I’m a fairly heavy user and their increased usage of my private data is concerning. I’m also just not interested in my life being more and more heavily mined for targeted ads.

Of course, this is not strictly a privacy issue. I don’t think there is anything Google could learn about me that would be of use to them in a way that would negatively affect me.* The other side of this is the challenge of it all: Can I really get off Google?

So, in order to prepare for my departure, I’ve come up with a list of Google’s services that I will miss in order of my usage descending:

  • Gmail (Google hosted email, for my domain)
  • Contacts (I sync my phone with Google Contacts)
  • Search
  • Docs (I’m the treasurer of my co-op board, I use spreadsheets to make our budget, and share them. That will likely be the topic of another series of posts)
  • Chrome**
  • Analytics (I take a look now and then at how my various sites are doing)

And for completeness, here is a list of things I won’t miss:

  • Google Ads (if I can prevent these from being displayed to me on any website, I’d call that a win)
  • Privacy concerns
  • Google Plus (For that matter, I wouldn’t miss Facebook either)
  • Picassa (I’ve always maintained my photo album offline)

My next post will focus on alternatives to the products I use and ways to prevent Google Ads from displaying.

*The government could subpoena my records, and I just don’t see them coming up with anything useful, but who knows.

**This may actually be impossible. I make websites for a living, I’m going to have to test in Chrome. Additionally, since I uninstalled Flash on my Mac, I use Chrome as my Flash viewer. Great decision, but it may interfere with my ability to stop using Chrome, as some websites just require it.