Does GA (Google Analytics) provide slick products and performant services that can make the difference for your business?
The answer is unequivocally yes! Google brings even more value with a complete suite of products that can be combined effortlessly to capture critical trends.
For those who want to dive into the technique, I suggest Simo’s blog, which has a clever approach on the topic, to me (and lots of readers).
Permalink to heading GA rocks but is it ethical? GA rocks but is it ethical?
Everywhere, for example, at the time of writing:
We know of at least 28,152,477 live websites using Google Analytics.
While most users get pretty much everything they need with the free version, there’s a premium version that can put things to the next level with expert support, account managing, training, and many other great features.
Still, the free version is more than enough to achieve both simple and complex analysis, which might explain its popularity, at least, partly.
If it’s free, you are the product
Whether it’s for re-marketing purposes or other treatments, Google may use and reuse your GA data at will, for example, to profile users.
You don’t own your data with GA, which makes privacy compliance and protection much harder for you, perhaps impossible for some aspects.
Permalink to heading Are you serious? Are you serious?
EU does not seem ok with GA:
The CNIL, in cooperation with its European counterparts, analysed the conditions under which the data collected through this service [Google Analytics] is transferred to the United States. The CNIL considers that these transfers are illegal and orders a French website manager to comply with the GDPR and, if necessary, to stop using this service under the current conditions
Data transfers can be a huge concern for Non-US Countries. The Austrian data protection authority’s (DSB) also concluded there are some incompatibilities:
In view of the above, the DSB outlined that Google Analytics could not be used in accordance with Chapter V of the GDPR
Permalink to heading Telemetry rules the Internet Telemetry rules the Internet
Telemetry is such a vast topic, so let’s focus on the facts. Google collects all kinds of data, LOTS of data:
20 times more telemetry from Android devices than Apple from iOS
It happens even when users are not logged in, in various products, including GA, and users have very few (or zero) options to disable it.
Google would probably argue that telemetry is required for its core functioning. Undeniable, but does the company need to sit on such mountains of data?
Maybe the future holds some magic. Recently, I stumbbled uppon a video with Eli Jaffe that mentioned the potential benefits of multi-party computation protocols for telemetry, but it seems early stage researches.
In the meantime, technological leaders will keep collecting astronomical volumes of confidential data.
Permalink to heading Disabling GA Disabling GA
Remember GA is everywhere!
Ad blockers do a tremendous job but there are various ways to circumvent them, for example, dataunlocker. Note that Google has a browser extension to truly prevent GA from tracking users called gaoptout.
hosts file to avoid the DNS request.
However, there are known techniques that consist of using other domains than GA to maintain the tracking, so you might need to block them manually (there are browser extensions for that).
Firewalls and other traffic monitoring tools can filter all requests, allowing you to block unwanted calls.
It works great but it can be tedious to configure and it’s hard to define generic rules, as websites usually rely on dozens of intermediary services (e.g., data brokers, marketing) that ultimately do business with Google.
no js, no fun
Permalink to heading The problem is not data collection The problem is not data collection
Professionals need telemetry and data, but Google’s products are not the only way.
The company kinda shifts the responsibility to its customers without telling explicitly its policy when they actually collect PII (personal identifiable information):
You will not and will not assist or permit any third party to, pass information to Google that Google could use or recognize as personally identifiable information
I’ve read about potential sanctions, but I’ve never read about any occurrence.
Permalink to heading Alternatives to GA you might want to try Alternatives to GA you might want to try
Just go to switching.software > Google Analytics and you’ll get a list of credible alternatives for professional or personal use.
Note that some of them do not even need tracking consent to be compliant with the GDPR.