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Web | Friday, March 19th, 2010

Google Analytics – Opt Out

Users to be given chance to opt out of being tracked

We recently blogged about the privacy concerns surrounding Google Analytics and other Google products. In summary, Google collects a lot of information about all its users and users of sites which use its services.  In isolation this data can enhance the user experience and site owner’s understanding of visitor behaviour; however, as a collection of data, it provides Google with enormous knowledge and power.

It seems that Google has taken heed of the mounting pressure to preserve privacy and has announced that users will soon be able to opt out of having their data collected via Google Analytics.

We welcome this from a personal privacy perspective, although we would prefer an explicit opt-in, as inertia and lack of awareness will mean few will hear of the opt-out.

Of course, this now raises questions about the usefulness of Google Analytics.  Whilst it’s likely that there will still be a critical mass of users who haven’t opted out, it will still cast doubt over the usefulness of reports.  Google Analytics already fails to track users without Javascript enabled.

Every analytics system has limitations and requires understanding of what data is collected and how to gain insights (it would be a futile task to compare reports from different analytical packages, for example!).  But this reduced confidence in Google Analytics, combined with the other considerations of data ownership, giving valuable infomation to your advertising provider and so on, may be enough to make you consider alternatives.

Fish.Net would be delighted to guide you through alternative solutions, so contact us to find out more.

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