I don't know if there's any solution or if privacy is just a remnant of the past. Is Linux any better? And is there any way to own a smartphone which is built not to leak my information, either through the operating system or through 3rd party apps that request access to everything on the phone?
I don't know if there's any solution or if privacy is
just a remnant of the past.
The reason why you (and everyone else who thinks this way) feel there's no solution is because in your world, giving up a smart-phone or even using a non-Windows/Google/Apple device is a non-starter.
There are new phones coming out like Ubuntu's and Mozilla's that, while not perfect, absolutely are better alternatives. If you keep digging there are projects like Neo900 that respect privacy in totality. You could use a feature phone, or an old n900, or any bevy of alternatives but the price they come with is convenience :)
The last time I checked, Mozilla's Firefox OS phones appeared to be sending all home screen search queries to some unknown company in Israel, with no clear way to disable it.
You're right that it's not mentioned in the video. That's part of the problem; it's obviously something people care about and would like to be informed of.
Here is one bug report discussing it - and a "fix" involving stopping the queries in some very specific cases: https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1082787
Or how about this direct quote from Mozilla's CTO (where in "e.me" refers to Everything.Me in context):
"So we send an XHR request for each letter to Google on Desktop (search box), and XHR requests to e.me on Firefox OS."
It's frustrating because there's no definitive end-date but they are much much further along than most thought.
When Microsoft bought the company (Nokia) they shut down all support for the phone, including SDK, app store, music store, maps, roads and software updates.
That's not what I was referring to, though. You and Nokia may have seen the N9 as the successor to the N900, but I certainly didn't, and I suspect the Neo900 team didn't, either.
I'm pretty sure Microsoft killed that one too.
Microsoft's strategy is to literally kill the competitors. They won't afford buying Google or Apple though :P
It's not as simple as just throwing out Windows and Office and switching to Mint and Libreoffice.
The Iceweasel bug that downloaded some icons silently on the first run was a big deal few days ago. The problem was that iceweasel doesn't ship the search icons with the package (legal reasons maybe), so it downloads them on the first run .
And this is considered a bug that will be fixed. Compare this to the privacy issues on any proprietary OS where they are considered to be features not bugs. Maybe there are other bugs that leak your privacy even more, at least they are recognized as bugs when discovered.
I'm really disappointed in mozilla's track record on privacy. They always seem to choose features over privacy. See for example all of the patches sent by the Tor Browser developers for various info leaks that have been rejected as they would be inconvenient for average users.
It really seems quite pointless to work on a leak like this when there's so many others in the upstream that they refuse to patch (even if they have understandable reasons).
I wasn't aware of this, what kinds of leaks are you talking about? Care to supply us with some references?
A good place to start investigating if you're really interested:
That's a list of the original planned features for the TBB. You can clearly see they intended it to be a temporary thing until patches were pushed upstream, but it's still around and still adding new patches to fix leaks. You might try to search for the tickets for the issues above in the mozilla bugtracker and you will see many WONTFIXes.
For a smartphone, you have to dig back into the past and find a Nokia N900 or an old-school BlackBerry; anything based on Android, iOS, or Windows Phone is going to snoop on you even if you tell it not to. Even FirefoxOS has glaring security issues, and Ubuntu Touch isn't ready for prime time.
> or if those are too obtuse (they can be difficult for the uninitiated to get into) try Ubuntu or Linux Mint.
For the uninitiated I'd cut to the chase and go straight to Linux Mint, there's just less to contend with.
Some time after initiation, depending on interests and needs, maybe work your way back up the stream to Ubuntu or Debian, or portage over to OpenBSD.
Thinking more about my post, I left out the option of just staying with Linux Mint after a noob gains experience.
Not that I'm anything like a role model, but it's my default personal distro, because it doesn't try to be the main focus of my computer experience, it just gets out of the way lets me focus on the work.
But you can't go wrong with Mint as a "get out of my way" OS, as you said.