The nuisance of online machine-generated advertising has recently been exceeded by word that Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, AOL and Apple have been providing data to the NSA. Are there alternatives to these compromises in privacy? The first move in increasing your privacy would be to change your browser from Explorer or Chrome to Mozilla’s Firefox.  However, since Firefox uses Google as its default search engine your next move may be to switch your search engine. Take a look at DuckDuckGo, Blekko, Wolframalpha or even Wikipedia. offers reported search results much like Google. Blekko provides searches grouped by results and reviews. Wolframalpha is more of an academic reference system, but it is very effective for historical data. Once you find a new search engine change it to your default through the "Settings" or "Preferences" in your browser. For the bloggers, BlogSpot (owned by Google) and Tumblr (owned by Yahoo) are no longer safe havens so Wordpress is a viable free alternative.

Then there is email. Google's Gmail service, launched in 2004, has grown to become one of the worlds largest along with Microsoft’s Outlook and Hot Mail. Alternatives to these giants include Mozilla’s Thunderbird, my personal favorite.

If you're serious about avoiding being snooped on, your next smartphone can't be an Android due to its use of Google's software, a Motorola phone because Google owns Motorola Mobility as well, or Apple’s iPhone either. That leaves a choice between the BlackBerry, Nokia Lumia or a prepaid phone where your name is not given to the provider.


To secure text messaging on smartphones, WhatsApp is a text messaging application that has over 200 million users mainly in Europe and Brazil. This also has the advantage of saving you money on text charges. The text message alternative Skype has been compromised too due to it being purchased by Microsoft in 2011.

Online video giant YouTube is owned by Google. The alternative Vimeo is used by professional videographers and features HD quality. For Smartphone videos there's Twitter's Vine that limits videos to six seconds but is great fun. Social networking sites such as Google+ and Facebook have also been compromised which leaves you with MySpace and LinkedIn.

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