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As per my previous question I would like to escape Google as much as possible.

Since I realize that I can’t do this completely, I will do what I can, although some might find it pointless.

I have abandoned Gmail, so Google are no longer automatically scanning my emails. Also, Google allowed third parties to read my emails, although, in fairness, that can be turned off – if you know that they are doing it, if you are aware that it can be turned off, and if you are tech savvy enough to know how to turn it off. Anyway, Gmail left a bad taste in my mouth, so I am using my own server and reading email with Thunderbird in Windows and K9 on Android.

I also don’t like Google knowing where I am, so use an Open Street Maps based routing app (I use it so infrequently that I forget which one it is :-)

I gave up Chrome and now use only Firefox Focus for browsing, which helps prevent extraneous cookies and trackers. Of course, if I want to be paranoid, my ISP (and server through which my data passes), can harvest my data & sell it on, so I really ought to be using a VPN.

Beyond Gmail and Google Maps, the only other Google product that I use is the Google Playstore, to insurance apps (although I do give F-droid precedence, where possible).

I was thinking of factory resetting my ‘phone and reregistering at Google Playstore with a fake identity 9anfd only logging in where absolutely necessary, in order to download, and immediately logging out afterwards.

Which brings me (finally) to my question. If I wipe my ‘phone & create a fake Play Store account, will Google still recognize me? I am sure that they could fingerprint my ‘phone, maybe even read its IMEI, but what if I sold it, so maybe they just go on my Playstore account? Maybe they check if I am still using the same IMSI/’phone number?

Is this particular paranoid idea going to be off any benefit to me, or would I just be fooling myself it if I believed that it would? Let’s assume that I always browse with Firefox Focus and use a VPN.

I realize that I only spoke of my 'phone here, but all of my desktop traffic goes over VPN, and I use a bunch of privacy add-ins for FireFox)

  • Phone serial id, build in network MAC address, sign in location, WiFI network location, etc. all can be used by ANY smartphone software to fingerprint you. – mootmoot Jul 27 '18 at 7:25
  • I figured as much, but what if I sell my 'phone to you? Do Google & other data harvesters still think that I am using it when you are? Or, does Google, at least, realize that there's suddenly a different email address associated with it (since Android pretty much has you logged in all the time), and realized that the 'phone has changed owner? – Mawg Jul 27 '18 at 7:28
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    Actually it doesn't matter : as long as you are back on the "hook", not just Google, even any unscrupulous "web analytical" script inside a Webpage can implement something to leave a beacon and even your browser attributes to fingerprint you. – mootmoot Jul 27 '18 at 8:05
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    @Mawg You can block or erase cookies (easy) and block third party website (note 3rd party origins also can provide useful service for the user) but measurement of browser properties, like graphic capabilities, fonts... that's harder to avoid right now. – curiousguy Jul 27 '18 at 10:41
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    They mostly don't want to "identify" "you", they want to know a customer. Any ID would do if they can sell stuff. – curiousguy Jul 27 '18 at 10:59
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If you use Google Play Store, yes they still can track you. But there is a next step in your privacy improvement! :)

  1. Don't use GApps (Google Apps). Actually don't use any google account on your phone. You need to instal some custom (open-source) ROM for your Android device (e.g. LineageOS). You'll need a root access.
  2. Then install firewall frontend (e.g. AFWall+). When you activate it in white-list mode, it will block network access to all applications. You can easily select applications which you allow internet access (only trusted (read F-Droid) apps like K9, Firefox Focus, OSMAnd etc.). In this way applications from Play Store won't have internet access.
  3. Install Yalp Store. Whit Yalp you can download and install PlayStore apps WITHOUT Google account. There are many other applications with the same purpose. You also have many sites for downloading APK files like APK Pure but use this sites only if you trust them ;)

The point is: you can use your phone without Google services, and you can use applications from PlayStore and you can even block internet access for that kind of apps that you don't know if they are stealing your personal data.

Hope you'll enjoy doing this!

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short answer, yes.

every single app you have on your phone uses every possible piece of information available to them to track their app and its users.

when you give away or sell your phone you log out from there and then suddenly there is no more requests made from that particular phone, so than they do realize its not with you anymore, someone else has logged in and using it.

  • Do you have any references for this? – Mawg Sep 26 '18 at 7:02

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