Two days ago FastMail announced CardDAV support was finally out of beta state. This is great news for people who, like myself, would like to stay a bit away from Google for all their personal information.
CardDAV is a standardized protocol to access contact data on a server. FastMail already supported accessing email through a web interface, client app and of course IMAP. They also supported CalDAV for calendars and provide web space to host bits of content, like this blog.
In a mobile environment, this allows you to have your personal information stored in “the cloud” but not tied to Google. The Google account is merely an enabler that gives you access to the Play Store, were you can download a signed copy of TextSecure and remembers you have bought CalDAV Sync and CardDAV Sync.
Using the latter two apps, contacts and calendar events stored at FastMail are available globally at the system level, and can be accessed normally with the calendar and contacts applications you’d normally use. Contacts and calendar events added from any normal app can be stored at FastMail instead of Google.
I realize I’ve never really blogged about why I use FastMail. I’ve been using their services for several years now. It started when I wanted to use my own domain for email and, at that point, you have to start paying money. Both to pay for the domain and for having someone handle your email for that domain. I investigated a few options and I remember reading good things about FastMail. They’re an Australian company, not very big. They have always cared about user privacy. Despite having their servers located in the US, they’ve stated in the past they actively avoid storing unencrypted information in their infrastructure abroad and do not obey US court orders. When Australian law changed recently, they sat together with their lawyers, analyzed the text and provided a public statement on why they believed the new law didn’t affect them.
This enthusiasm defending user privacy, coupled with their contributions to free and open source software, respect for standard protocols and efforts to push the state of email technology forward explains why I chose them. I highly recommend their services if you want more control over your personal data and email. Naturally, it’s not free. My enhanced account costs a bit over 30 euros a year (less than 3 euros a month), but you have to understand they’re not in the advertising business. They don’t profile you or use your data. You’re not the product in any sense, you’re a client. You pay for the storage, bandwidth and infrastructure you use, plain and simple.