Recently I have started investing more seriously in taking back my internet privacy, to the ability that I am able to. Steps to do this include, installing Linux on my PC and virtualizing Windows for apps that are required for school (mainly MS Office), switching to Firefox as my default browser, with extensions like Privacy Badger, uBlock Origin, and SponsorBlock, setting up a network-wide Tracker & Adblocker using a Raspberry Pi 0W and Pi-Hole, and cancelling unnecessary subscriptions like Netflix in favor of sailing the seven seas if you will.
I do not believe in bullshit like NordVPN. NordVPN is just a scam YouTubers promote to make money off of you. There is no real privacy gains to be made from using a VPN, for the average user. Hackers cannot (easily) intercept information sent over https even on an unsecured website. The only valid reason the average user could maybe have for using a VPN is to get exclusive content for other countries on streaming sites like Netflix.
I also do not believe in cryptocurrency. “BUT IT’S PRIVATE”, while true, is still dumb. Cryptocurrency has destroyed the PC parts market, and NFTs take it to a whole other level. I believe when it comes to financial privacy, cash is king. Use cash where possible, fuck crypto, fuck credit cards or debit cards. I’m trying to get accustomed to using cash more, and only using the credit card for necessary expenses where cash isn’t an option, like hosting this website, or paying for games on steam, or purchasing goods on sites like eBay.
I’m perfectly fine with having proprietary steam games on my system. I believe that games are more of an art form and less of a software, so I’m not opposed to installing and using proprietary games via SteamPlay/Proton or Wine on Linux. I also accept that sometimes I do need to use the occasional Windows only software, which is why I keep Windows confined to a VM with as little access to my resources as possible. I am also not opposed to proprietary blobs for drivers. Unfortunately, these are kind of a must, and a minor hindrance if anything else. I don’t have reason to believe that the WiFi binary blob on my laptop is going to send anything super revealing to anyone. (And frankly, if I’m using WiFi, I’ve already kind of sacrificed privacy anyways, as it is easier for a hacker to intercept a WiFi signal than an Ethernet signal.)
I do have a webcam on my desktop. It has a shield that can go over it when I wish. I use it for video conference calls, such as telehealth or meetings, and that is IT. It does not get used for anything besides that.
I am starting to look into alternatives to my iPhone now, preferably phones with easy self-repairs and the ability to install a more privacy conscious OS than stock Android, like LineageOS, or some other ASOP based OS. I will admit that an iPhone is a lot more privacy respecting than most Androids OOTB, but if you can find the right Android phone, it can be way more privacy respecting (and easy to fix things on your own) than any iPhone could ever hope to be. Unfortunately, as phones are kind of a necessary evil in our modern world, you can only do so much to protect your privacy on them. You still run the risk of your carrier snooping on you.
Ultimately, taking back as much privacy as you can will only get you so far. You can never truly trust anyone providing a service. Here is a notable excerpt from cock.li in regards to trust, privacy, and anonymity, that you should apply to all services claiming to offer privacy and anonymity. (Except for truly end to end encrypted services, like the Signal chat app)
This excerpt is part of why I haven’t really bothered to switch away from a gmail account. It is totally possible for any email provider to read your emails and intercept them, regardless of what they say. My life is too entangled with Google’s services now to even be bothered to switch to a different email provider. While I totally could, and probably should, I always remember this excerpt when thinking about switching to a mail service claiming to provide privacy and anonymity. The hassle isn’t worth the switch for perceived anonymity and security.