Huh?

What I mean by normal calls is heading to your phone app, dialing my number and hitting the call button. No; Don’t do that.

I have the phone app disabled on my phone Airplane mode turned on and most of the year, don’t have an active SIM plugged in, and no I DO NOT use WhatsApp (FACEBOOK) or any app that needs a real, active, phone number.

Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

TL;DR: ~ The quickest way to reach me?


Don’t get me wrong I love technology and use my glass brick and laptop to do VoIP calls and text everyday, I don’t like phone numbers.

Numbers are pseudo-fingerprints. I can host my email for cheap, control, encrypt it, delete it, forward it to a new one but I can never own / [host] my own phone number unless I’m a millionaire and buy my own island.

How do we talk, as people in real life?

No one has a tape recorder running in their brain; logging everything, you live in the moment, no need to use 10 digit codes, worry about call charges or speak as though you have a transcript of everything you said and have it linked to any of your public life.

The Freedom To not own a phone number

When using a SIM, there’s no guarantee that SMSs are not intercepted and SIMs can be cloned by hackers impersonating you with your Aadhaar card. Further, you have to trust these ISPs Jio/FB that they don’t sell out or share my meta data with third parties for profit and obviously, without my consent.


5 Reasons Why Nobody Should Do (Non VoIP) Calls

1. Call connection issues

There are too many carriers around the world and things can go wrong due to their errors, you or your friend can get connected to a stranger, they listen in but you never know, most of the times this is a bug, when you use VoIP calls it uses open source protocols and there are rare chances of any bug, remember - no code is 100% bug proof.

Once you dial the number the call goes Over The Air through your phone’s or laptop’s cellular or WiFi network connects to the ISP’s exchange does its magic and connects you to the recipient.

2. Crystal Clear and Peer to Peer

Calls over data are much better in quality, anyone who has tried VoIP calls knows this. They can be improved as you use them if they have some AI magic.

3. Future Proof

The only thing to update on your end is the client, the app you use. The server stuff can be done easily, often no need for physical work on the medium such as phone lines or underground cables when compared to normal calls over landlines.

4. International calling and overseas charges

Get over it, these calls will always be overpriced compared to data, it was designed before the internet was mainstream.

5. Meta Data resistance

Every call’s meta data contaminates a minimum of 3 places.

  1. Your phone
  2. The ISP
  3. The caller’s phone

At the most you can protect the other 2 ends but the ISP or carrier is the middle man. They can redirect your calls and you never know due to their closed source code they run and there’s no way to verify it.

Most phones have malicious apps which send your phone number and call details, with other info such as birthdays, nick names without your consent.

Examples of such data mining apps are - proprietary apps like Truecaller, Facebook, Google Contacts, TikTok, MIUI. This is sold to advertisers without your consent - and these advertisers make profiles with data points about you, send you targeted ads based off your social graph and your interaction with your friends.

If you use WhatsApp clients are proprietary you are just changing your ISP to FACEBOOK there’s no proof of their encryption so treat it as unencrypted.

Not to mention the calls are un-encrypted, can be tapped by 3rd parties without you knowing, can be stored, manipulated, yada yada yada. Phone numbers are really old, landline days. Email uses the internet as a medium, one can host an email for cheap.

Non END to END calls suck


So here’s how I use the internet and switched to clear, encrypted VoIP calls

Things to Keep in Mind

  • You need an internet plan. Pretty cheap, caps at $7 in India if you take the basics.
  • I’ll compare phone calls to a emails.
  • A phone number - People get random phone numbers that you can never change and are limited to a certain country.
  • No Subscription model - In regions like the UAE, people have to pay for VoIP calls as a subscription. Do you need to pay to talk to your friend in real life and how much? the only reasonable fee you need to pay is your internet fee and donating to the developers (or self hosting is the way to go)
  • Verifiable End To End encryption (No compromises only you and the person you) normal calls have so many ISPs in play and you never have a common ground on any kind of encryption so forget encryption, it’s a public stage.
  • Do not use closed source clients. (No WhatsApp) (Servers can be non verifiable, provided all calls are end to end encrypted and the protocol running on the client can be audited by anyone to ensure end to end encryption)
  • Anything sketchy such as on device recording, w/o the other person knowing.
  • Cross device calls - Since calls go through the internet it can be answered on the laptop, TV, phone, smartwatch, smart speaker or any device where the client app runs.

My current setup

I use Telegram FOSS (MTProto), and Element (Matrix) (using the Jitsi protocol), both are from F-Droid and as for the laptop I use their respective desktop apps (NOTE : Signal exposes numbers but it’s not ready yet, and it’ll be shamelessly copied by WhatsApp by that time, late to the party, don’t use WhatsCrap over the others.) polarhive.ml/blog/messengers

Telegram and Element are cross device, have opensource clients, free, signup via username / VoIP numbers and then ditch the number, number privacy, encrypted, usernames, cross device calls, and video calls (Telegram and Signal). Element is federated and can be future proofed. Signal and Telegram can’t run independently.


Fallbacks

If I can’t find people on these platforms, most normies are on Google,

  • I enter their (g)email, and call them on Google Duo
  • Or as a last resort I use an online service to call them to their real number with a cap of 1 minute.

Google Duo

It’s a part of the big 5 tech giants. Only if you need to use it, use it on https://duo.google.com in a web browser it can call anyone who has a Google account. No need for a phone number from your side.

UPDATE: I’ve deleted Google. polarhive.ml/blog/degoogle

Email

It’s cross device, attend at any time, on way more clients It only makes sense to use emails other than gmail because Duo calls would supersede you using gmail for emails

Online VoIP apps

like TextNow, Google Voice, a friend’s landline number can be used to Signup for Signal or Telegram. You can get the login codes on previous sessions on Telegram, remember to set a 2fa passcode. Then hide your phone discover-ability and keep at least 2 sessions active, one on your PC and another on your phone. You don’t need to be connected always, it works independently on the device. If you used Signal your number is exposed so unless the fix use it with a VoIP number.


For reasons stated above I have a backup free VoIP number I use for Telegram and Signal and a Matrix account.

NOTE - Do not send texts or call this number I can not guarantee it will be me picking up as the number can get recycled or deleted and I will ditch this number in the future for any updates check my Mastodon https://polarhive.ml/mastodon If you have any number other than the one linked here I do not consent to saving it anymore, please purge it from your contacts and delete your my contact.