Everyone who even casually follows the tech industry knows, intellectually, that Google builds an enormous dystopian profile of everything you do in order to sell ads1.
But I think there's a difference between knowing that Google Analytics is a shameless back door to do cross-site tracking and actually coming face-to-face with your own profile. Yesterday, CNBC featured a
story about a new
Google UI which shows you a list of every purchase that you've made in the last few years:
https://myaccount.google.com/purchases. For me, wide variety of commercial activity — every
purchase I've ever made at a store that uses Square, every Amazon purchase, every Apple purchase, every movie ticket.
I see gifts for my wife, work purchases, and even food for my rabbits. And on almost every item is a note:
purchase was found in your Gmail.
It's been clear for a long time that Google as a company no longer considers their users to be much more than piñatas full of delicious data; for me, seeing that list of the last 7+ years of every purchase I've made electronically is the last straw. As of today, I'm taking my personal domain (roguelazer.com) off of the grandfathered free-tier Gsuite2 mail hosting that it's had for the last 10+ years and moving it to a host that seems less inclined to aggressively mine it for data, and moving as many accounts as possible to no longer depend on my gmail.com account. I opened my Gmail account 15 years ago3, so I guess it's time to move on.
I went through the current crop of mail hosts, and evaluated them against the following conditions:
- I don't want to self-host; I have no interest in actually maintaining (and monitoring and backing up) an SMTP and IMAP server. I get enough of my day job at my day job.
- I prefer to use regular IMAP and SMTP protocols and mail clients (e.g., mutt); anything that requires that you use the provider's custom application is right out.
- I'd like a hosting provider who's been around for a few years and seems unlikely to vanish off the face of the Earth tomorrow
- Decent performance from the US
After doing some research, I decided that Fastmail was the least-worst option4. So I've migrated all my mail out of Gsuite onto Fastmail, re-pointed my MX records, and configured Gsuite to route any mails that still trickle into it over to Fastmail. Some time tomorrow when all the TTLs have expired, I will be shutting down my Gsuite account5.
If you want to have a chance in hell that our grandkids won't live in a surveillance dystopia, search with DuckDuckGo, close your Gmail account, switch to Firefox, and remind your elected officials that the world would be a better place without Big Data.
"Google Apps for Your Domain" when I signed up for it in 2007...
August 12, 2004. What a different time.
Yes, I've already had Protonmail recommended to me by a half-dozen people. I've tried it, but it misses half my criteria and at this point I think anyone pushing a commercial VPN as a product for any reason is probably a snake-oil salesman.
Don't worry, I used the helpful Google Takeout tool to dump out an
.mbox of my mail for historical purposes.