A safer internet starts with a privacy-friendly device

73% of internet connections are made from a smartphone. A safer internet starts with a private environment to browse, communicate, share and shop.

/e/ Developers Blog
4 min readFeb 9, 2021
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

Today is the 18th edition of Safer Internet Day with actions taking place right across the globe.

This day has become a global landmark event to raise awareness and expose risks around online issues and promote best practices for a safe online experience for all.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has made apparent, society as a whole is more connected than ever. We use the internet for everything from education to buying our groceries.

According to recent studies, smartphones have become the go to device to access the internet, taking the lead over desktops and other devices.

Source: we are social Digital 2021 Report

What was previously a battle for browser ad blockers has shifted to blocking trackers and data collection on our smartphones. This is especially true as internet connections aren’t only happening via browsers anymore but also through the apps we use in so many aspects of our lives.

At an OS level, conventional smartphones log all your doings and whereabouts. This includes sensor data (barometric pressure, accelerometer, gyroscope), tracking usage of third-party Android apps and ads, voice commands, precise activity-based location data such as if you are walking or driving as well as your use of proprietary apps and services.

It is a known fact that these apps and services can track this data even if location is disabled, if the phone is offline or if you do not have an account to these services. This puts you and your personal data in a tight spot.

People know that data is collected but they are not always aware of what that truly means for them.

In the mainstream marketing industry however, they definitely do.

“Where you are is as important as who you are. We look to understand who a person is based on where they’ve been and where they’re going in order to influence what they’re going to do next. […] How can you start to look at these behaviors [location data] that are happening in the real world and maybe leverage some technology to allow you to make sense of who these people are?”

That quote is from a marketing strategies webinar from 2017, and the practice has been rapidly evolving ever since.

The New York Times was already investigating on this pressing issue back in 2018.

“Location information can reveal some of the most intimate details of a person’s life — whether you’ve visited a psychiatrist, whether you went to an A.A. meeting, who you might date,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, who has proposed bills to limit the collection and sale of such data, which are largely unregulated in the United States.

This situation has to change.

At /e/ we want to do our part to make the internet a safer place for all users.

We strive to share all information about /e/OS with full transparency. Our goal is give each user a choice and control over how they use and protect their smartphone and data.

The apps we choose to install on our devices are a crucial point that will determine how safe we can feel in our everyday activities.

Our /e/OS App Installer helps you evaluate which apps are safe and which ones you are best off avoiding. With the help of the Exodus Privacy database, /e/ can decipher app code for you: you can see which and how many trackers are in each app. It also lists the permissions the app requires to operate.

One of our objectives for this year is developing our Privacy Center app to raise user awareness as well as help them gain more control on trackers on their smartphones and generally improve their data privacy management. It will present information about trackers and permissions as well as gives users the options to improve their privacy by setting up alerts, disabling app features and setting up custom geo-location.

73% of internet connections are made from a smartphone. A safer internet starts with a safer environment to browse, communicate, share and shop.

If that sounds like something for you, head over to our Twitter account. We are hosting a giveaway with our partner, Fairphone and you could win a Fairphone 3+ with /e/OS, or a number of other privacy-friendly prizes.

Today, /e/ OS runs seamlessly on more than 100 devices and can be downloaded for free. For people looking for a ready to go solution, we also offer pre-installed phones.

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