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There has been a lot of talk these days about privacy, or rather about a lot of privacy chops. Related news came from Germany, Belgium, Austria and France.
We recently learned that Google Fonts is not GDPR compliant, something that has been warned about for some time and website operators in Germany are being urged to find an alternative. A German court germany fined a website for filtering the visitor’s IP address via Google Fonts The ruling the GDPR/DSGVO does not comply with the GDPR/DSGVO.
If you want to anticipate possible problems, the recommendation is to self-host Google Fonts, here’s one quick and simple option to do so with Perfmatters.
On the other hand, an investigation of the Belgian Data Protection Authority (DPA) rejected the use of the Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF) by both advertisers and publishers for violating the GDPR.
Google Analitycs and privacy
A few kilometres further, the Austrian Data Protection Authority (DSB) ruled that the continued use of Google Analytics violates European privacy rules because it transfers EU citizens’ data to servers in the United States.
But, in addition, the French Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés (French Data Protection Authority) has declared illegal the transfer of Google Analytics data because it poses privacy risks.
Some alternatives to Google Analytics
I know it is difficult to get rid of certain services that we have become so accustomed to that we think there are no alternatives or the ones that exist are worse, but I have started to take the signals more seriously around here and I am trying out Matomo, a veteran tool formerly known as Piwikas alternative to Google Analitycs
I remember that, in its early days, Piwik was a real killer for any modest server. As soon as it started logging data, it bloated the database and slowed down the site due to a lot of requests. A lot has happened since then and both Matomo and hosting servers have evolved in terms of resources.
The main reason to use and recommend Matomo is that it is a free and open source application that guarantees real data protection and privacy of visitors by regaining full control
The data will no longer pass into the hands of third parties, as in the case of Google, which unilaterally reserves ownership. You have full control
This doesn’t guarantee that Google will stop grabbing data to cheat with it – it will continue to do so with Adsense and the rest of its tools – nor that someone won’t be able to misuse privacy-friendly solutions.
However, if you care about your privacy, you can now guarantee it to your visitors as well. At least as far as data collection for statistical purposes is concerned.
Some government agencies that use Matomo:
- Press and Information Office of the Federal Government of Germany
- New Zealand Government
- European Commission for Europe Analytics
Matomo can be used in three ways
1- Hosted in the cloud. Its paid version.
2- Plugin for WordPress. (Y many others). As simple and quick as installing the plugin, activating it and configuring four things.
3- Downloaded and you install it on your server in five minutes.
I’ve tried the last two options and I’ve stayed with the installation because, in addition to saving a plugin, it offers more configuration options and is much more stable and complete.
You can install it in a subdomain or in a directory and its panel or dashboard, very complete, looks like this. Nothing to envy to GA.
From here everything is very configurable and easy to tinker with. From the location of the modules, which you can remove and add, to the look and feel.
Now let’s take a look at the options that interest us the most, the privacy ones.
Here you can customise how Matomo complies with privacy to adapt to the different existing legislation in each country by anonymising the visitor’s IP.
Or by automatically deleting the visitor’s records in the database.
Matomo, in addition to respecting Do Not Track, also provides an opt-out mechanism to put on your site by pasting a simple HTML code
Visitors can now decide whether or not they want to be tracked by Matomo. Here is the result of the code working for this page.
These are just some of the options. As well as being able to schedule deletion of old data and reports, you will find useful information on asking for consent, general data and GDPR tools.
Matomo also has a few plugins free plugins that you can install to extend its functions or the possibilities of the panel and other issues.
Here you have one of them working, Flag Counterwhich shows the total visits per country with their corresponding flags.
By configuring the parameters of the insertion code you can show different date ranges, show the country code and the number of columns and rows you want, as you can see on this page.
Another alternative created a few days ago
The colleagues from Complianz who have, in my opinion, the best cookie consent plugin, both free and paid, to comply with the various regulations have released just a week ago Burst Statisticsa privacy-friendly statistics plugin.
A simple free statistics tool with a clear dashboard and basic reports.
Burst, with a simple approach and no complicated configurations, anonymises and stores all data locally, making it a GDPR compliant solution. In addition, it automatically integrates with Complianz for greater control.
One plugin launched on 31 May 2022 that promises to be 100% GDPR compliant and is touted as a much more user-friendly alternative to Google Analytics is Independent Analitycs. You can download and install it from the WordPress repo.
I’m testing it (10 June 2022) in a staging, so at the moment there’s not much data to share a screenshot, but among its options is to receive in your dashboard referral reports that you can filter by page title, URL, page type, author, etc.
Tracking is done without cookies, does not record IP addresses and does not share any data with external servers, so if you are reluctant to have a cookie banner, this may be an option. All data will be on your server.
This plugin has only a few minimal settings, just install it and go.
In terms of performance, one of the factors that interests me the most, Independent Analytics runs on your blog, there is no external request. In addition, the tracking script only takes up 2 kb (GA’s weighs about 35 Kb) and is integrated into the page, so it loads with your HTML and doesn’t add any requests.
Its creators claim that there is no noticeable difference in the performance of your site after installing the plugin. It can also be used in conjunction with Google Analitycs and Matomo without errors or conflicts if you want to compare the results of both measurements over a period of time.