These aren’t quite ready to go on the main switching.social list, but are highly developed and well on their way.
Purism Librem Five
Purism’s Librem 5 is a new kind of smartphone which runs entirely on open source software and includes lots of features to protect the user’s privacy (including physical off-switches for the camera, microphone, wifi etc).
Purism are already known for making high end privacy-oriented Linux laptops, and this will be their first phone.
It’s currently due for release some time during July / August / September 2019. More details and pre-ordering from the link below.
WEBSITE – Librem 5
Funkwhale is an open source federated version of Grooveshark or SoundCloud, which lets you easily discover and share music online through a music-oriented social network. It’s still being developed, but you can try it out at the demo link below, or join one of the “whales” listed on the project website.
PROJECT WEBSITE – Funkwhale
DEMO WEBSITE – Funkwhale Demo
Prismo is an open source federated alternative to Reddit. It’s still under development, but you can have a go on the demo site below.
Snips is a privacy-by-design voice assistant, an ethical alternative to Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri or Google Home. Unlike those other voice assistants, Snips processes your voice commands on your own device or computer. It works entirely offline without sending your data anywhere, so no one is listening in on you.
It’s still in development and currently aimed at businesses and developers/hobbyists, but it should eventually become available to a wider audience.
PROJECT WEBSITE – Snips
DEVELOPER / HOBBYIST WEBSITE – Snips Makers
Alternatives to Google Translate
There are a number of open source alternatives to Google Translate.
Self-Hosting / Home Servers
A big reason for privacy being under threat is that your data is usually stored on a large faceless corporation’s computers, and you have to trust them not to do anything bad with it.
One alternative is to store your data at home instead, on a computer (or “server”) that you leave plugged into the internet. It runs all the time, sort of like a fridge for your data, and when other people want to connect with you (for example to send you an email) they connect to your home server. Also, because it’s connected to the internet, you can access your server from anywhere in the world through your phone, laptop or tablet, for example to check your email or to upload photos.
Traditional server computers used by large companies have a reputation for being massive, expensive and power-hungry. However, because a home server is only used by a small number of people, it can be tiny, cheap, and low-power. Modern microcomputers (such as the Raspberry Pi) are popular choices for home servers as they are physically about the size of a packet of butter, cost as little as €50 and use very little electricity.
The main stumbling block at the moment is the technical difficulty of setting up and maintaining a home server, which can be quite demanding. However, there are a number of projects which are trying to make it as simple as possible:
Scuttlebutt + Briar
If the internet is out of action, or if you cannot use it for some reason, it’s possible to communicate with others through a mixture of wifi, bluetooth, messages being passed from one device to another, and messages waiting until they are near a network before being sent. This is known as “mesh networking”, and while a mesh is not as convenient as the internet, it is much more durable (e.g. workers in disaster zones use them for this reason).
Apps are starting to appear which combine mesh networks with the internet to produce extremely privacy-friendly services. They’re still relatively tricky to use, but they are getting easier all the time and they offer unique advantages over their internet-only counterparts.
ScuttleButt is a social network with no servers, all your data is stored on your own computer or phone, and you can use it offline. There’s a mobile app for ScuttleButt called Manyverse and a desktop app called Patchwork.
Briar is a messenger which combines meshes and the internet so it can work offline and work without servers. It is especially suitable for journalists and activists who are operating in environments where communications are difficult.
Briar – Website (including mobile app)
If you look at a website address you’ll see it starts with HTTP or HTTPS. These stand for Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and they are a set of technical rules that allow the world wide web to function. Unfortunately, HTTP rules are being exploited to invade people’s privacy.
The Dat project is creating a new set of technical standards called “Dat”, which provide a privacy-conscious alternative to HTTP. Dat is being developed by a mixture of non-profit organisations, community groups and volunteers, and it aims to give users more control over who sees their data.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE – DatProject.org