Steps towards trusted VPNs

VPNs have become quite popular in recent years for a number of reasons, and more and more they are being touted as a privacy tool. The question is whether using a VPN does improve privacy. It is clear that VPNs are quite useful for getting access to things on the internet when direct connections are blocked. VPN providers include a number of tactics in both their client apps and server infrastructure to ensure that their users are able to make a connection. [Read More]

Free Software Tooling for Android Feature Extraction

As part of the Tracking the Trackers project, we are inspecting thousands of Android apps to see what kinds of tracking we can find. We are looking at both the binary APK files as well as the source code. Source code is of course easy to inspect, since it is already a form that is meant to be read and reviewed by people. Android APK binaries are a very different story. [Read More]

The Promise and Hazards of COVID Contact Tracing Apps

There has been increasing interest in the possibilities of tracking people who are infected with Coronavirus using all of the various methods that smart phones provide. There is good reason: “contact tracing” has been a pillar of public health efforts for decades. It is an effective means to curtail the spread of infectious disease. At the same time, governments, companies, and organizations are acting fast to offer services to help end this current pandemic. [Read More]

Improving Crowdsourced Translation of Long Form Text

We are happy to announce the start of work on another step in improving crowdsourced localization, funded by the ISC Project. This is the second part of our ongoing “Linguine” collaboration to move crowdsourced translation to privacy-respecting free software. Crowdsourced translation has proven enormously successful getting apps and website software translated into many languages. Using tools like Weblate or Transifex, developers can quite easily incorporate translated app strings into their mobile apps and websites. [Read More]

Setting up your own app store with F-Droid

(_This blog post as now been cooked into an updated HOWTO_) The Google Play Store for Android is not available in all parts of the world, US law restricts its use in certain countries like Iran, and many countries block access to the Play Store, like China. Also, the Google Play Store tracks all user actions, reporting back to Google what apps have been installed and also run on the phone. [Read More]