10 Ethical digital tools you might need

We rely on apps and other digital tools to accomplish everything from messaging colleagues to finding a restaurant.

But not all digital tools are created equal, and by equal, we mean that they provide equal opportunities between users and providers, fair use of data, and adequate privacy provisions.

Here are several companies that go beyond providing digital solutions and also pursue ethical principles.

Messaging Apps

Signal is a free, open source messaging app that has been available since 2014. Since WhatsApp changed its terms of service, on 6 January, 2021, Signal downloads grew by 1150x in some countries compared to the previous two weeks.

The reason behind this huge success is because the app is 100 percent privacy focused. And the team so far has lived up to its promises. Signal is “committed to the mission of developing open source privacy technology that protects free expression and enables secure global communication. Your contribution fuels this cause. No advertisements. No trackers. No kidding.”

Signal has been endorsed by Edward Snowden and recently also by Elon Musk

Search Engines

Privacy is a hot topic for search engines too. If you’re looking for ethical alternatives here there are different options: 

  • The Berlin-based not-for-profit, B Corp, Ecosia, was founded in 2009 and is on a mission to turn search clicks into trees. Some interesting facts about Ecosia: in 2019 they reached the milestone of 100 millions trees planted across 25 countries worldwide. Plus they have recently backed a free eco-friendly debit card that will channel profits from merchant transaction fees directly to tree planting in areas of the world threatened by deforestation.
  • Search Scene‘s motto is: Search the web to save the planet. It’s a charitable search engine that donates 95 percent of its profits to charity, with a focus on supporting charities that help fight climate change and alleviate the suffering caused by climate change. You can choose the charities you wish to support by clicking on the heart-shaped charity icon at the top-right of any page.
  • Metager: is a metasearch engine developed and run by a nonprofit organization, SUMA-EV–Association for Free Access to Knowledge, highly respected on privacy and use of data. It’s diverse and free. It protects against censorship by combining the results of multiple search engines. And it runs using 100 percent renewable energy, “from the server to the coffee machine.”

Productivity Apps

If you are looking to enhance your productivity, avoid distractions while working, and in the meantime turn your work into meaningful actions, then Forest App is for you.

Forest team partners with a real-tree-planting organization, Trees for the Future, to plant real trees on earth. When users spend virtual “coins” they earn in Forest on planting real trees, Forest team donates to their partner and creates planting orders. They have already planted 982,064 trees. 

Blogging and Journalism

Ghost is a nonprofit publishing platform based on open source technology founded in April 2013, after a very successful Kickstarter campaign.

Their mission is “to create the best open source tools for independent journalists and writers across the world, and have a real impact on the future of online media”.

Currently Ghost is used by individual bloggers, large teams of writers, and editors and some of the largest organisations in the world.

Ghost so far has scored more than 2 millions installs.

Their legal constitution ensures that the company can never be bought or sold, and one hundred percent of the revenue is reinvested into the product and the community.

Music Streaming

If you enjoy listening to music while working and if you value music and the work of artists, then with Resonate you’ll definitely know what you’re listening to and you’ll know you’re making an impact.

Resonate is the world’s first co-op music streaming community. Open source, for the listeners is a way to rediscover and engage with music as art made by real humans.

For artists, it means owning their work and owning their networks. Resonate is about fairness and control; they allow creators to set the terms on which to distribute their art.

Resonate is on a mission to build a new music economy based on fairness, transparency, and cooperation.

Read more about their manifesto.

Education

If you’re looking for some valuable education platform in the tech field, Codecademy is the perfect solution. They have thousands of free resources available to learn the fundamentals of coding and believe that life-changing knowledge should be free and easily accessible to anyone. If you are looking for something more specific for your career, you can enroll in one of their courses where you’ll be able to learn from teachers and your peers.

The Team at Codecademy are rethinking education from the bottom up.

The idea came to Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski, in August of 2011 they founded Codecademy. While students at Columbia University, the two realized that learning didn’t happen best in a classroom – it happened when learners got to learn by doing with peers. Building on that experience, they began teaching programming to students around them and, seeing the increasing gap between the skills taught in schools and the skills required by the modern workforce, decided to build Codecademy to bring modern digital skills to the world.

Codecademy is trusted already by 45 million learners.

Videoconferencing

Jitsi is a community of developers that is enabling people to meet through videoconference: it’s a set of open-source projects that allows you to easily build and deploy secure video conferencing solutions. 

It’s a free alternative to Zoom, plus Jitsi is another platform endorsed by Ed Snowden, so it definitely passed the security check.

If you’d like to learn more about Jitsi, its story and how it is disrupting the world of videoconferencing, here’s an interesting article.  

Data Storage

Permanent is a non-profit that gives people complete control over their digital legacy and the peace of mind that it will be preserved for future generations.

A trusted platform for individuals, families, and small organizations that provides a secure and private environment to build and share archival quality history with family, friends, colleagues, and the public, at their complete discretion.

You can open an account for free and if you need more space you can pay based on the gigabytes you need, no subscriptions needed. Read more about their values here.

Tresorit is another alternative for data storage: end-to-end encrypted, zero-knowledge content collaboration platform designed to safeguard the digital valuables of individuals and organizations with the highest classification in the cloud.Some interesting facts: Tresorit supports organizations that work towards creating social good with a highly discounted Tresorit subscription. In 2020 they have been named Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for Content Collaboration Tools

We hope this list will be useful to align the set of digital tools you use every day with what you value most. If you’d like to browse more options at Ethical.net you’ll find plenty of solutions listed by theme.