Is Indiscriminate Data Collection the NEW Default Setting?

We talk a lot about privacy & security on this forum & I write a lot about it on our blog.

It’s no secret that over the past 10-15 years, there have been significant changes in data collection, particularly with the increasing amount of data generated and collected through digital channels.

We all know that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to avoid leaving a digital footprint. With the widespread use of digital technologies, including smartphones, social media, and the Internet of Things (IoT), we are generating vast amounts of digital data on a daily basis. Even simple activities such as browsing the web or using a GPS navigation app can generate data that is collected, stored & then exploited for profit by third-party companies.

Over the weekend, I came across this eye-opening video from VOX, and it just highlighted the fact that, not only are most people not aware just how prevalent data collection is (or might not care), but how subsidized it is.

Some tech companies subsidize the cost of their tech products and services by monetizing user data. This is particularly true for companies that offer free or low-cost products and services, such as social media platforms, search engines, and email providers.

These companies offer free or low-cost products to attract a large user base, and then monetize the data they collect from those users by using it for targeted advertising, selling it to third-party data brokers, or using it to improve their own products and services.

When it comes to tech products, particularly those that are offered at a significantly lower price than competitors, it is important to be aware of the potential trade-offs. The biggest trade-off with low-cost tech products is often the collection and use of user data.

At Mudita, we are often asked to comment on the cost of our products, with remarks usually centered around the price point.

Although the cost of manufacturing tech products can be influenced by a wide range of factors, including labor costs, material costs, regulatory compliance, and other factors, it’s also important to also consider data privacy & security.

As Mudita, we are focused on addressing the need for more humane, empowering consumer electronics. Our goal is to satisfy a growing community, which stands up to oppressive Big Tech solutions, but still wants to stay connected, in a more private and mindful way. Our hardware & software products don’t overwhelm the users with distractions and don’t constantly require attention. Finally, it’s important to underline that our products do not collect or share any personal data, are forever ad-free and not part of the usual dominating business model based on ad-profiling and the attention economy.

My question to you guys:
How do you balance the benefits of using technology in your daily life with concerns about data privacy and security? What steps do you take to protect your personal data, and what trade-offs are you willing to make when it comes to using tech products that collect and transmit personal data?


I won’t say I have balance at this point but I have since switched to a Graphene OS phone for work and using signal messenger and I have not logged in to anything google on the device. I browse incognito and I have micro managed the app permissions to the point that they have very little access to sensors, gps, microphone etc. When I am home it goes in the Stolp until needed. It is sometimes inconvenient but I have to remember I had an entire life before such conveniences and I managed. It is a work in progress but a fight worth fighting.


My Sunbeam Wireless F1 Orchid flipphone, which runs on Sunbeam’s AOSP-based, Google-apps-free BasicOS and includes a privacy-protecting “Premium Services” annual subscription, is my everyday cellphone.

The Orchid does not support tethering, so recently I bought a refurbished, like-new Google Pixel 4a and immediately de-Googled it by replacing Google Android 13 with LineageOS 20. I use F-Droid to find, install, and keep current on this phone those Android apps that, per F-Droid, have no privacy-intruding characteristics. I now use this phone, running a VPN app and connected to my home Wi-Fi, to grab and play podcasts through AntennaPod. I also run Session messenger on the 4a without a SIM card (through my home Wi-Fi).

When it comes to weather tracking & forecasting and speech-to-text, the Orchid with the Premium Services subscription beats feature-wise and privacy-wise whatever I could put on my LineageOS-based Pixel 4a. So, I plan to move my SIM from the Orchid to the 4a only in special circumstances, such as on a vacation when I want to have a phone-based backup camera (~1 megapixel for the Orchid vs. 12 megapixels for the 4a).

Summarizing the privacy trade-offs for those two phones, I’m willing to pay US$40/year to Sunbeam for its Premium Services subscription, and I’m willing to deal with a much more limited collection of apps (not that I need many!) in F-Droid on the 4a that what Google Play store makes available.


What drives me nuts is that we have to be so deliberate about it now.
Like, I can’t just browse the internet, I need to pay for a VPN as well.
Even watching movies has become so monetized. I pay for Netflix, but I’m sure they monetize my data in some way. I used to buy/rent DVDs but I doubt my local video store was crafting a profile of me based on my love for John Wayne movies.
It’s definitely become harder to maintain your privacy. I read about people “de-googling” their devices, but I’m not tech savvy enough to do that- so I would find someone to pay to get it done- so again, more money just to not be exploited by big tech.
It’s definitely getting harder to balance the use of technology with actually maintaining some degree of privacy.


@kirkmahoneyphd Thanks for sharing this with us. I feel, like you’re one of the members in this community that takes their privacy VERY seriously & I’ve learned a lot from you. I got the idea of using an older model phone with WiFi only for & carefully chosen aps & audio books.
Do you find it increasingly hard to protect your privacy?
Personally, I think it’s an uphill battle. The minute you think you’ve got it all figured out- BAM there comes another way which your data is monetized.


@urszula: I find it hard to try to retrieve some sense of privacy. The more that I learn – from posts on this forum, from Rob Braxman videos, from makers of de-Googled phones, etc. – the more that I appreciate how much – wittingly or unwittingly – I have given away my privacy over the years.

Trying to retrieve my privacy now reminds me of the advice against gossip in the pillow-full-of-feathers story.

I now appreciate that privacy and security are separate. Imagine a home that has one of two front doors – a solid-steel door or a bullet-proof-glass door. The steel door gives privacy; the glass door does not. Now imagine that the homeowner can decide whether to lock his or her front door. The locked door gives security; the unlocked door does not.


Telegram: Only the phone number is needed for registration. You can keep everything else private.

Facebook: My work e-mail and phone.

Websites in general: I use the “Hide your email” Apple feature and deactivate it when I no longer need it.

Other websites: I mostly use my work email. I ask for account deletion for those I’ll not do more business with.

My professional website: I use Substack, so there isn’t much I can do for the time being.

Browser: I use Safari with Private Relay (Apple) and AdGuard.

Phone | Computer: I’m stuck in the Apple ecosystem, so I keep things simple and minimal. The privacy settings are kept to a minimum, and the location services are only for the sim card.

“Smart devices” at home: No way!

I intend to use the new generation Mudita phone as the main phone and an iPad mini as my “backup” (I’ll use Mudita’s phone for tethering).


Indiscriminate data collection has become the norm in recent years, particularly with the rise of social media and the Internet of Things (IoT). So many companies now collect so much data on their users/clients etc, often without their explicit consent or knowledge.
I think it’s up to us to protect ourselves. If you don’t, we should just assume that our data is collected and being used.


I think you just have to assume that you’re being tracked and profiled. That’s just the way things are right now. At least in the EU it’s a little better than in the US from what I hear.


I will have to agree. We just have to assume that we are constantly being tracked and our data is harvested.

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@roberto You mentioned you used Telegram
Check out this article from WIRED Magazine:


I don’t follow WIRED for a long time due to their political agenda, which means that everything they disagree with, they label you with a political side. I am nonpartisan, and I don’t like labels. I’m no doubt that Telegram is not as secure as Durov and their team claim, but giving Meta products as an example, became a joke if we start to talk about censorship.

In short: Nothing is safe. Nothing is for free. It is up to us to balance our needs and what we give in return. This is a classic example of “givers and takers” from an evolutionary perspective.


…and the balance of this “scale of equilibrium” will continue to tilt in the favor of the collectors of data.


Ad eternum.