Google is taking over the world. Is it too late to stop them?

Look, I tried to be positive in the title. However, there probably is no positive take on this, except maybe, “Google is taking over the world, but we may be able to slow this down by conducting a massive boycott of their services and getting all the countries to do some extreme legislation”, which is both unwieldy and impractical.

Anyway, to the point. I am not exaggerating, Google is taking over our online and offline lives. How many Google services do you use? Think about it. What started as a garage-based search engine today offers- [*takes a deep breath*]

Email, maps, the world’s largest collection of videos (YouTube), the most commonly used OS (Android), one of the major OSes for schools and colleges (Chrome OS), by far the most common browser (Chrome), a translation service, cloud storage (GDrive), the largest mobile app store, a very advanced AI (Tensor), SMS and contacts management (Messages/ Contacts), “business management” (the ghastly My Business), online classrooms, video conferencing, chat, voice and video calling (Hangouts, Duo et al.), blog hosting, domain names, collaborative document editing (Google Docs)… all while being (mainly) an ADVERTISING company.

It’s the last which you need to focus on, as demonstrated by it being italicised, underlined and bold. It is a company which knows each and every single thing you look at, search for, and express online in detail. Furthermore, it is also no secret that it makes personality records for every user which includes interests, viewing behaviour, etc.

And if you are under the belief that you can’t be targeted by them just because you don’t have a Google account/ aren’t signed in to it, you are sadly mistaken. Google ads and tracking is present on most websites nowadays. The way these work (very baldly) is that these websites, in exchange for ad revenue, ad Google-provided ads on their pages, which load a frame from Google Ads’ domains, which can check the cookies stored for the Google Ads domain. (A webpage can only see the cookies stored for that particular domain, so, for example, can’t see the cookies stored for The ad now knows that you were on that website at that particular time, and it similarly tracks you throughout the internet’s various webpages. If you exhibit behaviour very similar to that of an existing Google account, and your system specs and location are the same as that account (among with probably loads of other checks as well), it would possibly add your newer browsing history to your Google account as well, without being signed in to it. (This last part is somewhat speculative, since the guys at Google obviously aren’t very talkative about the methods they use to spy on us.)

So it that it? Is the world controlled by the few lords of the big tech giants? Is there no way out?

Fortunately, there is still some light at the end of the tunnel. Not much- more like torchlight instead of sunlight- but it is possible to ‘deGoogle’ your life. You will have to make a few compromises here and there depending on your requirements, but on the whole it is a fairly smooth process.

Before we start, I want to clarify something. It is unfortunately almost impossible in today’s day and age to be truly free of the big tech, while also being an active member of society. However much you try to avoid it, there will always be the project which needs you to use Microsoft Teams, or the irreplaceable app only usable by logging in to your Google account, or the one friend who will only use WhatsApp. What follows are ways to reduce, but not remove, the surveillance from the tech giants.

First and foremost, avoid Google products like the plague. Use {DuckDuckGo|Brave Search|Startpage} as your search engine, ProtonMail instead of Gmail, Jitsi instead of Google Meet, Firefox instead of Chrome, Nextcloud instead of Google Drive, OpenStreetMaps (+ OsmAnd on Android) instead of Google Maps.

After that, either set up a Pi-hole ad blocker + tracking blocker (my setup) [even though it is much harder and expensive (Raspberry Pi or equivalent needed), it works on stuff like smart TVs where you can’t install extra stuff], or install an ad blocker + tracking blocker on your browser (I suggest uBlock Origin.) On Android, I use AdAway as a system-wide blocker. jmdugan’s blocklists repository has blocklists for various different corporations like Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft etc. and there are several other lists available online. (This may break a few websites.)

If you have an Android device, you can use NewPipe as an alternative, ad-free client for YouTube (among much else- see their website for details.)

All this, along with following general safe practises online, will give you a considerable privacy boost, and you will now hopefully be a step ahead of the tech giants’ clutches, at least for now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.