• "the #state's only vital function is protecting us from other versions of itself" https://t.co/fUaS2MoLXf
  • Nice redesign @BittrexExchange – dark mode appreciated, love the clean & simple design; well done!

Reclaim your privacy on Android

If you care about your privacy (as you should), these apps will help you retake your privacy on Android.

Before we start, let’s just recap why you should care: Glen Greenwald – Why Privacy Matters. Now that you’re motivated, let’s see what can we do about our Android privacy and how to preserve it.

Note: I would like to write more in detail about each individual app in the future. Take this as a short introduction and invitation for taking back your privacy now.

TextSecure (SMS)

TextSecure – private SMS

TextSecure Private Messenger (by its official name in Play Store) elegantly replaces your default SMS/Text app – which are in general terrible – and offeres automatic end-to-end encrypted secure communication between you and the other person using TextSecure app. If that’s not enough for you, TextSecure also supports group chats and “avoiding” SMS fees. All that free and open-source, with nice, functional interface with recently implemented material design (if you’re into it).

These features are available when communicating with others via TextSecure. However you can use it to communicate with anyone from your contact list – TextSecure automatically detects if your contact is using TextSecure as well and if does, you have your privacy; if doesn’t, you’ll be sending your usual SMS as you are used to. In every case, you’ll be informed if the communication is secure and private, or not.

TextSecure on Google Play TextSecure homepage

RedPhone (calls)

RedPhone – private calls

Made by the same developer as TextSecure (Open WhisperSystems), RedPhone is to your calls what TextSecure is to your SMS. Free and open-source as its sibling, RedPhone does its magic when calling your other RedPhone contacts – it automatically upgrades your calls to end-to-end encrypted voice communications via wi-fi or data. That might be an issue if you’re in areas with bad reception, as these encrypted calls are more bandwidth-heavy, but for most that’s shouldn’t be a problem.

RedPhone on Google Play RedPhone homepage

Telegram (IM)

Telegram – private IM

Forget about Facebook chat, Google Hangouts, oh-my-god Skype and others.. Telegram is buit as a free, fast, secure and open-souce instant messenger (could you honestly want more?). It’s pride is an active development, pretty huge community of users and encrypted messages in the cloud (accessible and synced via multiple devices). Oh yes, it’s as multiplatform, as you could want – featuring Android/iOS/WP, web-based and PC/Mac/Linux clients.

Telegram promises forever free and ad-free messaging – from FAQ: How are you going to make money out of this? – btw take your time and read some of those FAQs, it will give you a nice sense of what Telegram is about. Featuring secure chats with optional self-destruct timers, broadcast chats, chat groups for up to 200 people and send-whatever-attachments (up to 1.5 GB); all in nice package.

I’ve been personally using telegram for few months and I can’t express how enjoyable it is. Fast, easy, polished and mainly functional.

Telegram on Google Play Telegram homepage

GetGems (IM alternative)

GetGems – private IM with Bitcoin support

Just in short: open-source Telegram brought to life many forks, including GetGems messenger. GetGems is “Bitcoin-flavoured Telegram” – it adds another layer to the mix with your own Bitcoin/GEMZ wallet paired to your username (and telephone number). Bringing Bitcoin to the masses, sending cryptocoins to your friends becomes as easy as sending “1 BTC” message and verifying with your credentials. As a fork of Telegram, it has all its pros + its users are compatible (Telegram users can secure-chat with GetGems users and vice-versa).

I won’t go deeper into detail, if you’re interested, see GetGems official website or BitcoinTalk thread.

GetGems on Google Play GetGems homepage

Final thoughts

Everyone should be natually concerned about their privacy. You don’t need to do anything illegal (and you absolutely shouldn’t of course) for keeping what you do private.

If we’ll ignore all the attempts to take our privacy away from us, sooner or later there won’t be any way back. By using those apps mentioned above, you know you’re keeping conversations between you and your contacts; not allowing any third party to snoop on “what’s up”.

Try those apps, see if they fit you and share them with your friends (as their secure functionality works only if both contacts use them).

What are your thoughts on these apps? Which apps are you using for security and privacy? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Author

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Martin Allien

Graphic & Web Design freelancer from Prague. Loving opensource not because it's free, but 'cos it's open. Fighter for privacy, anonymity and freedom.
Say hi @AllienWorks

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