Written Dec 6, 2018
A few years ago, my desire for privacy grew and I started trying to change my digital habits. During this transformation, I discovered the need to opt out of unlawful mass surveillance using such tools as encryption, including a VPN. As is my personality, I wanted to thoroughly research the technology and the market before I made my selection on a service. At the time, I made a chart in Google Spreadsheets as I started my search, which over the next two years, spiraled into multiple full blown comparison charts and guides, today. If the feedback and attention the project has gotten means anything, many others have been able to use these tools as they have started down their same rigorous path of research.
Keeping the site running and content maintained started taking a significant amount of time and resources, which I’m grateful to say, many of you greatly contributed with – despite problems with several payment platforms. I have done as much as I have been able to work into my schedule to keep the site maintained and to add new content – but I know many people want more than I’ve been able to do the last few months.
This brings me to the impetus of the announcement: demanding and distracting obligations in my personal life have recently changed for the better, and I am now able to take/announce the next big step(s) for That One Privacy Site! Over the coming months, I have dedicated time to put towards the following:
Moving beyond VPNs and Email
There are many other things I’ve researched and learned about behind the scenes in the past few years that I think people would be interested in, including:
- Operating Systems
- Other Privacy/Security Relevant Software
“But TOPG”, you might be thinking – “A thousand and one tech blogs talk about this stuff”. It’s true that countless (bought and paid for) sites drone on about specs and features – but I’m more interested in a company’s dedication to keep their software free and open, patched and up to date, allowing you to flash your own custom privacy-friendly firmware on the device without voiding your warranty, separating the SotC from the baseband radio in their phones, and so forth. What about a company’s history with security breaches, and anti-privacy practices – including what lurks in their terms of service… These are all areas I’ve been interested in, want to delve deeper into, and wish to shine a light on for others that may not realize quite to what extent the services they use are watching them.
Translating TOPS content into other languages
I feel the need is growing for people in a handful of countries especially to have the information the site provides. Until now, only English-speakers have really been able to enjoy it, even though I’m humbled that readers do come from almost every country. For this to work, I am reaching out to all of you – if you have time, are able to translate, and wish to contribute to this effort, please reach out to me via the usual channels (which can be found on my contact page – here). I am specifically looking for people who can help translate some content into:
- Chinese (Mandarin)
“Won’t this distract you from adding things to the other charts and keeping the stuff we already love up to date?” – No! I don’t plan on spending any less time than before adding more/new services (this has got to be one of the biggest things I get emailed about). Some changes I’ll announce now for the comparison charts, which you will see in the coming months, are:
Updating and improving existing content
Changing the “dedicated/virtual server” field – this one has been a little confusing. The intent now is to show if the service owned their own hardware, and had full control of their server environments (as opposed to using a cloud-based solution that a big company can have access to or get into without the knowledge or consent of the company) – not that a company might be using virtualization software (ESXi, etc).
Wireguard is an up-and-coming VPN solution that I believe shows some promise. While I necessarily recommend or endorse it as a standard yet, I think that it says something for the degree to which a company is being proactive, and staying on the bleeding edge of new VPN tech.
A full refresh of all the data on the comparison charts (ongoing).
Thank you all for your involvement over these last few years! I sincerely appreciate your support and kind words. Again, if you are interested in contributing your time and talents to this project, please reach out! There are many many people around the world who are currently held back from retaking their own privacy may soon have the ability thanks to your contribution!
Also, a quick note: As I’ve learned about running a website over the last few years, I’ve learned more about how important it is to link back to the site to increase visibility on search engines. A lot of the shill sites (that I’d rather people don’t fall prey to) have massive SEO teams to boost their ranking. If you feel like you can’t contribute in any other way, I would very much appreciate even just linking to TOPS to friends, family, and even strangers (where relevant and appropriate, don’t annoy people or shove it in their face or anything). This will help the algorithms that handle ranking on search engines prioritize TOPS over the piles of junk that currently come up. In this way, you can help guide other people away from seedy affiliate trash – to actually helpful, unbiased info.
If you like the project and find my work useful, please consider donating – your generous contributions help pay for the hosting, tools, and time I need to do my research and keep the data fresh.