Turning The Tables on Google and Apple

I have an idea of how to turn the tables on Google and Apple. Right now, they lock you out of the parts of your own phone where they don’t want you making changes, and snoop and advertise with impunity.

With the L5, this community could create an environment in the L5 with a small chroot that would be structured to appear to be Apple or Android when Apple and Google come snooping and advertising. In that area, everything including the OS version, model of phone, advertising id, and anything else could be spoofed. Then, data could be collected by the L5 owners (just a program left running in the background), about Apple and Android’s snooping and advertising practices. With thousands of L5 owners, the net could be cast widely to monitor what Apple and Google are doing collectively, and to upload their information to a central server. Advertising and snooping algorithms and associated activities globally could be examined by the open source community and made available to the public. Different advertising IDs could be spoofed randomly on a daily basis. The idea would be to monitor, expose, and render useless, any snooping and/or advertising that Google and Apple put out. As far as Google and Apple would see, the little fake Android or Apple OS that either company comes upon when they hit your L5 would be a domain that they think they own and control but it’s all just a spoof on them and not really you. The information gathered about them could also be used to render advertising and snooping on other (non L5 phones) useless. Meanwhile on your L5, you never even see them and they don’t see the real you. Your weekly L5 softwarw pushouts could screw with them in different ways over time as more is learned and new questions come up about their activities.

A project like this could start out very small, maybe just one guy writing code for only one specific purpose. It could grow over time as privacy becomes a bigger concern and as society wants to know more about exactly what these companies are doing.


a dedicated honeypot just for snoople and ipple ? sounds too good to be true imo :sweat_smile:

I do not feel the urge to enact revenge on google or apple. Apple lost me as the customer years ago, and google is losing me as we speak. That alone is painful enough for them. I’m convinced, that if they won’t change, they will die naturally.

Any effort to fight or sabotage them is, in my opinion, misdirected. Perhaps the only exceptions are the lobbying affairs. Those should be monitored and countered. One could support FSF, EFF or other such organization for that very purpose.


A revenge model or using this technology to hurt is a bad idea, just on attitude-shaping grounds alone. But a monitoring model can enhance digital rights because often surveillance capitalism utilizes methods that affect us without our knowledge or consent.


I think y’all are confusing “vengeance” with “holding accountable.”


I don’t think there is anything malicious that could be done to Google and Apple any way, other than exposing the exact details of their invasive actions, publicly. But in the process, why not spoof everything about yourself, on your own phone. If they don’t want bogus information then perhaps they should stop the spying.

I see Google and Apple like the company in the movie, “The Circle”. In that movie, the company is built on a model that believes that all information should be public and that privacy is immoral. Tom Hanks plays a Steve Jobs kind of character that leads the company and has a cult-like following of employees that he often addresses on stage the same way Steve Jobs used to do. And he has a lot of his own secrets. In one of the final scenes, he sits on stage and is politely and properly ambushed by all of his dirty secrets being dumped out to the world via the internet while he watches it all happening on the big screen in front of a large audience of his followers. In keeping with his policy of speaking honestly and openly, he casually and calmly says to himself (with the world and his large in-person audience watching) “I think I’me f…ked here”. We can only hope that happens to Google and Apple and others like them.

because i may be on a metered connection while i’m mobile and it might JUST be more convenient for me to keep the lockdown mode ON or in a semi ON mode than send FAKE traffic out and also discharge the battery in a seemingly gratuitous way while G and A would keep calm and do business as usual …

I don’t know, @Rec, it all sounds to me like this:

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Purely from a logistical perspective, this would require a HUGE amount of work. You would have to make a complete emulation layer for both Android and iOS. While the former is freely available through Google’s own dev tools, I seem to recall people attempting the latter in the past being buried in legal crap from Apple. You’d also have to deal with the fact that the L5’s CPU and GPU are very weak compared to what you see in modern Apple/Android devices. That plus emulation overhead would make actually using this mockup device an exercise in frustration.

If you want to go the monitoring route, you’re best off sticking with Android - or rather, LineageOS. Pretty much all of the Google crap is gone from there except a few OS-level settings (eg. captive portal detection which you can disable). XPrivacy already intercepts and scrambles requests for tracking data, you should be able to make it produce a log with a few changes to the source (https://github.com/M66B/XPrivacyLua) if you want to document exactly what each piece of software does.

Apple - that one will be much harder both in terms of your coding effort and in convincing others.

Firstly because their OS is covered in both hardware/software and legal lockdowns - you’d have to get persistent root access on an iThing to be able to change what the OS says to software, their lawyers are quite trigger-happy and I don’t know what kind of documentation or examples exist for the OS’s core which would let you make these changes.

Secondly is because they have a history of standing up for the user (or at least appearing to) when it comes to things like spying and tracking - both with the highly publicised court case between them and the FBI, and also due to OS changes such as this one (https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2020/08/ios-14-privacy-settings-will-tank-ad-targeting-business-facebook-warns/).

If your angle is that of privacy and tracking, you’ll have an easier time getting someone to switch away from Google (because raping your privacy is the foundation of their business, though at least they have the decency not to use a rusty cactus like Facebook do) than Apple (who are actually helping in some aspects). The reason not to choose Apple (aside from price) - device lockdown - isn’t something that the average user would even consider.

God, wtf. Why are you talking crap about Apple. In my opinion they make great phones. Their security is over the top and are actually improving the privacy rn by actually releasing software that will by default block trackers and analytics inside apps. Just because Apple is Apple doesn’t mean they are the same as Google. Please never compare those two companies as the same. They are not. Google can “kys”, while Apple is more on the good side. Treating the majority of users with respect.

Apple has the best phone for casual phone users, including us. Which wants the xtra and the available apps that come with it. As Google/Android is just bloatware and a full-blown tracking device. A casual user won’t make it far with Android. Custom ROMs are insecure, what I mean is, most devices doesn’t receive up-to-date security updates and are very limited in that regard. Those who has GrapheneOS or CalyxOS only has 1 device to choose from. Are those pixel phones. They are not available to every country. Mine isn’t. And all the features coming with those phones are unethical and “unusable” in that regard that camera suxs, and normal apps “can’t” be installed, and the device looks ugly af, etc.,

My opinion, my words, don’t go off hating on me. (Yes, I bought the Librem 5 - 2 years ago, and I’m still excited for it)

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I think that Apple and google are comparable as they are the 2 dominating groups inside the mobile phone market (in respect as android with google play services and IOS). You can argue apple is more secure and I believe that in respect to permissions management for apps and sandboxing and so on but apple phones are not secure phones just because they are better than google android phones in some ways. Depending on who you buy your android phone from, android gives you more freedom in respect of downloading and installing applications from anywhere you want and I really appreciate that. You can say that in insecure but there is google protect or something if you want to use that but still. With apple, developers are forced to create apps that have to be on the app store and have to cough up 30%… I am starting to go off on a tangent so I am going to stop. If you believe apple is freedom respecting, you may want to look at RMS’ website to read up.

What I agree with is that apple makes easy to use phones for normies which is completely fine but I wish they gave options for the power users so I could customize an IOS device to my liking with one awesome thing being able to flash a different OS which they make almost impossible (in regard to mobile phones).

I think you should be more careful when saying

because that isn’t very fair. AOSP android and the hardening project around grapheneOS make a pretty secure device (if you ignore the concept of proprietary firmware). Google is terrible but there is an option there to have android without google and many roms have that option.

Yes that is unfortunate but you can still get different roms on different phones if you want.

Well tough sh**. Buy 2nd hand maybe?

Well kids didn’t get T400s and x200s freedom respecting out of the factories in China too. Hackers made them better (not perfect). No phone on the market comes ethical because none are from what I have found (unless you want to count that phone from technoethical with whatever that OS was on a samsung device which can’t do basic things such as GSM calling).

The camera isn’t good without google camera stuff but if you want you could install that app from aurora store which comes from f-droid (though that somewhat defeats the purpose of the OS).

I don’t hate you. I just enjoy breaking down views and discussing them. I don’t think anyone really bullies anyone here.

Good for you. A somewhat unpopular opinion I have is avoid the L5 until price decrease and FSF certification :slight_smile: People aren’t here to fight; we are here to talk and hf.

Apple is not some saint saving you from trackers and other crap in the world because they are crap and are a creator of devices that track you because they couldn’t give a flying frick when it comes to open source software for the purpose of freedom. Apple and google are compared because they are both proprietary garbage and create devices and don’t respect you.


uh oh ! looks like i replied too soon > https://videos.lukesmith.xyz/videos/watch/ed7290ac-a585-40b4-b65b-73b5744eacce < Maciej Ceglowski - The Website Obesity Crisis [Web Directions 2015 Keynote]

or too late ? :sweat_smile: > https://videos.lukesmith.xyz/videos/watch/672efcaa-1def-4c08-929f-0f14a31aac93 < The Truth about Mobile Phone and Wireless Radiation - Dr Devra Davis

downloadable as torrents :slight_smile:

If you are focusing just on security, I would agree. On the question of privacy, Apple is certainly better than Google, because Google’s business model is based on monetizing people’s personal data for targeted advertising. However it is worth pointing out that Apple was willing to give the NSA access to their servers before the Snowden revelations. It was only after the Snowden exposed Apple, that Apple started its campaign to market the iPhone as respecting your privacy. Likewise, it was only after Apple got caught lying to its customers about how it was using their audio recordings to train Siri, that the company stopped its bad practices. A 2018 study found that the iPhone is far better than an Android phone, but it still transmits a lot of data to Google servers.

As Apple moves toward selling web services, I think it likely that Apple will collect its customers’ personal data to do targeted marketing of Apple’s web services.

If we look at other areas such as user rights, software freedom, planned obsolescence in hardware design and abuse of the intellectual property system, I judge Apple to be worse than Google. Apple has been the industry leader in trying to prevent people from fixing their own devices. I judge Apple and Huawei/HiSilicon to be the two worst mobile chip makers, because not only do they not share any information about their chips which makes it impossible to implement free drivers for them, but they also lock the bootloaders so it is impossible for the user to change the bootloader and/or operating system.

I give Apple credit for a few things, like providing 5 years of software updates for iPhones and not basing its profits on monetization of users’ personal data, but overall, but I see it as promoting a different kind of kind of exploitative relationship with its users, based on locking them into its expensive ecosystem, which may be better than what Google does, but it’s hardly laudable.


Not to mention charging 30% to use its app store and not allowing devs to sell their apps from anywhere else. They’re just as shady as google, IMO. Theirs is just a different kind of underhanded.

Mad Magazine and the C=64 were a match made in Heaven :angel:.

Any phone that spies on you is evil. Any phone that advertises to you is evil. Apple spies on you and advertises to you. Therefore, Apple is evil. Google is evil too. But that doesn’t let Apple get a free pass for their evil actions.

People accept spying and advertising on their phones so much, that they actually act like either of these things are acceptable. The user agreements that force you to accept spying and advertising on your phone should be illegal. There needs to be a free option that allows you to opt-out of both. You pay for the phone when you purchase it and you should have full and free control of it after that. The seller’s revenue stream needs to stop after you pay for your phone, unless you opt-in to something else from them.


@amosbatto, if I could like this post twice, I would!

system message:

a new batch of ads has just landed on your new “insert-mobile-IOT-here”. please take a few moments of YOUR time to look at them if you want to keep your current shitty job !

Got my vote on what you’re saying. FSF & EFF support 1st then any energy left to address the Lobbyists thing.

Lessig, Creative Commons guy +++, has some great stuff going on. This list of sites, historically, and chronologically point to successful strategies evolving to deal with the legislation that locks us out of so much copyright & patents. However, it does not deny Property Rights.
DemandProgress.org, acting as RootStrikers.org, so NewHampshireRebellion.org, sending MAYDAY.US, as EqualCitizens.Us to TakeBack.org a Fairvote.org so that an American AntiCorruptionAct.org so legislators Represent.Us not Lobbyists of the very people/institutions behind the fears in this string.

Is it working? Well prior to 2012 extremely few folks were aware of the ideas the above websites promote. This last year, in the 2020 POTUS cycle, All but 3 of the candidates were certified as PUTUS1 ( PR buzz word via Lessig, for candidates that FULLY SPONSOR day 1 if elected, using HR1 -which passed in Congress but never again seen in the Senate -

In 2020 this Lobbyists problem in the conversation and not let go. Nothing in 2012 to central issue this cycle.

Want those things the fear in this string laments? Work with other leaders like PURISM, FSF, EFF and Lessig educated folks who are in the political realm.

Rant like, but I see this string as same.

Revenge… we’re better than that. FSF shows it’s a solid strategy, and wins. Red Hat traded on NYSE.