Why is Privacy important? (Data Privacy Day)

January is an important month of the year: at Matomo we will be celebrating Data Privacy Day! Every January 28th since back in 2007, Data Privacy Day (also known as Data Protection Day in the EU) has become an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of privacy for people and businesses alike.

Table of contents

What data is being collected about me?

Many of our activities leave a trail of data. This includes phone records, credit card transactions, GPS in cars tracking our positions, mobile phones (with or without GPS), and the list is growing. Online, almost all activities leave a trail of data which service providers will collect, such as instant messaging, browsing websites or watching videos.

This trove of personal data is collected, stored, and may be shared with others – without your consent!

This becomes particularly problematic when your data is shared with big tech companies who use it for advertising purposes to profit off of you. They do this by building your digital advertising profile which is based on sites you have visited, searches you have completed, etc.

Here are a few examples of technologies designed to track you for this reason:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager
  • Facebook Pixels

Even if you don’t use Facebook, Google for search or Google Chrome as your browser, there is still a high probability that these big tech companies are tracking you. But how? Through website tracking. Many businesses use the tools above on their website and unknowingly hand over information about you.

Why is privacy important?

Privacy is the ability to control who can access information about our private life and our activities.

Privacy is important because:

  • Privacy gives us the power to choose our thoughts and feelings and who we share them with.
  • Privacy protects our information we do not want shared publicly (such as health or personal finances).
  • Privacy helps protect our physical safety (if our real time location data is private).
  • Privacy helps protect us as individuals, and our businesses, against entities we depend on or that are more powerful than us.
  • Privacy is tied to Freedom…. Could we really be free – and have free will – without Privacy?

Can we still maintain privacy?

Thankfully privacy is not dead (yet) but it is under threat. Some entities such as the NSA have made it clear that their goal is the end of privacy, worldwide. Without privacy, we will become easily controlled, manipulated and feel a loss of control over ourselves and our personal lives.

However, the good news is that now more than ever, many businesses, technologists, activists and others are hard at work to improve and maintain our privacy.

How do I protect my privacy?

There are many ways you can improve your privacy, for example by exercising caution before sharing private data online or with others. You may also make minor decisions, such as paying in cash instead of using a credit card, encrypting your emails and backups, and reading the terms of services before using a product (ie. is your privacy going to be respected?) and reviewing how a website is tracking you. 

To understand how a website is tracking you, use a tool like Blacklight to check for privacy-threatening technology. If you see that a website is using something like Google Analytics, kindly reach out to the company to ask that they consider using a privacy-friendly and ethical alternative.

Below we have drafted an email that you can copy, paste and send to the company, to help protect your privacy and do your part in creating a better internet. 

				
					Subject: Concerns regarding [business name] using [technology]
				
			
				
					Body:

To whom it may concern,

I am disappointed to see that you use [technology / “Google Analytics”] to track your website visitors, as this is a tool that uses data in unethical ways and threatens [business name]’s reputation. 

I care deeply about my right to privacy and can not support a company that uses a tool that shares data with big technology companies like [technology company / “Google”]. 

I ask that you reconsider the technology you use to track your visitors and look for a privacy-friendly [technology alternative / “Google Analytics alternative”] that gives you 100% data ownership, with no external parties looking in. 

Kind regards,
[insert your name]

				
			

If you or your company manage a website (or several websites) then we have good news… did you know you can ensure your future privacy by using the free Matomo analytics platform?

Announcing the “Liberate Your Website Data” Day!

How does Matomo protect my privacy?

Matomo is the leading open-source web analytics solution that respects data privacy and data ownership. It is an open-source platform built by an international team of volunteers and is used on more than 1.5 million websites worldwide.

Time to Liberate Your Data!

When you use Matomo on your own infrastructure, you control everything. All data collected is stored only within your own database, and no other business (or Matomo team member) can access any of this information. The source code of the software is open- source and  is constantly reviewed by a global community of independent security researchers to ensure it is secure and keeps your data private.

An interesting example from Germany of how they take their privacy seriously: Berlin court rules Google privacy policy violates data protection law. For French websites, the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL), has confirmed that Matomo can now be used to collect data without tracking consent

When you use Matomo to track your users, you are in full control of your own data. Try Matomo for free today and take ownership of your data and users’ privacy. 

How Matomo protects the privacy of your users and customers

As well as keeping your data private and protecting your privacy (as a webmaster), Matomo helps to ensure the privacy of your website visitors and mobile app users. From the time we created Matomo, we have strived to build advanced privacy protections in Matomo:

These privacy features, along with the open and decentraliszed nature of Matomo, mean that your users’ privacy is ensured and respected.

Conclusion

Privacy is important to ensure our freedom as individuals. Respecting privacy is critically important for businesses dealing with sensitive customer data.

Matomo provides you with an open platform for your website and mobile apps analytics. Matomo ensures you respect your users’ and customers’ privacy.

Today, we hope you will Liberate Your Analytics Data and start using Matomo!

Thanks for reading.

References

To continue the discussion, please get in touch via the forums or email us.

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