Decrapitation – What’s in your address book and where is it?

Address Book

When you don’t pay for a product, you are the product.

Anytime you get something for free on the internet, like email, address book, word processing, image storage and image processing either you are paying for it or it’s free.  Most times in today’s internet environment it’s free…. “free”…..

Google offers free email and free address books.  You might think that they do this only to serve ads to you on Google but that is wrong.  Their collection of data on Google’s products and using various trackers on other internet sites allows them to target ads to you all over the internet.  So even on other websites, the ads you see are likely influenced by the data they have obtained by your using their products.

Recently I looked up (Using DuckDuckGo) “Does Google Read Email?”  Up until now I assumed that they did not.  They could if they had a court order but I assumed that routine email between me and my physicians, family, friends, political parties, charities was not read or used by them.  Do your own diligence on this but my takeaway from reading articles  including

Guardian 2014 Article about Google Email

Guardian 2014 Article about Other Email Provider Practices

is that Google at the very least uses an automated program to scan the contents of to individualize ads you see for products (and perhaps political ads… I’m not sure but given the Cambridge Analytica debacle this can’t be ruled out).  In their own words:

“Our automated systems analyse your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customised search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.” (From the first article cited above).

I decided to remove my addresses from Google and transfer them to the email program I use and pay for called Protonmail Link to Protonmail.  It was an easy process involving downloading a CSV file and then uploading it to Protonmail.  Then I deleted the addresses on Google. I did the same with my iCloud contacts and that added another 400, mostly redundant entries.

After I did that I had over 2000 contacts because Gmail had been collecting (as I directed it to) the emails of all the people that I emailed from that account.  Protonmail has a handy feature to eliminate duplicates and that reduced the number by over 400 entries!  And in process I found many archaic entries.

Unfortunately I still have hundreds of contacts that have only an email address.  Many are familiar and some not.  I’m not convinced of the utility of going thru the 1600 addresses to delete those I don’t use.  I can still quickly search for the ones I do and I think this is going to be one of those areas where letting the clutter stay is more “minimalist” than actually spending time to eliminate it.

I have though consolidated all my addresses and know where to go to find contact information.  I also have eliminated my Google and iCloud address books.  I feel better that my information has been removed although I don’t know that there was ever any real security breach there.

I have also downloaded the file, encrypted it using Boxcryptor, and stored it in case Protonmail or I intentionally or mistakenly corrupt or delete my addresses.

So dear readers, what’s in your address book?  How many do you have?  Do you know where your addresses are stored and who has access to them?  Is your address book backed up in a VCF file, have you encrypted it and do you know where it is stored in case you need to back up all your addresses?

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