Other EU states likely to follow
Max Schrems and the team at Noyb have issued 101 complaints, in various countries across the EU, about Google Analytics and Facebook Connect. Last week the Austrian Data Protection Authority made the first ruling, and that is that Google Analytics is illegally storing EU user data. It is now expected that similar decisions will be made in Germany and the Netherlands, with other EU countries to follow.
This post on the Fathom blog explains the situation more clearly. My understanding is that because Google is a US company, and they store data on US servers, they are legally required, through the use of the CLOUD Act, to hand over any data their government asks of them.
This doesn’t mean you have to remove analytics from your website, but it does mean you should consider if your analytics provider is storing data appropriately.
Personally I use Fathom analytics (referral link), but there’s also Plausible and Simple Analytics. All of which are non-US companies that store data on servers outside of the US. There’s probably others but these are the ones I am aware of.
Late last year Wholegrain Digital wrote about how they are, as far as possible, stopping the use of Google Analytics in favour of Plausible.
I wonder how far this ruling goes. Google Analytics (and Facebook Connect) are the obvious first things to look at since they are everywhere. But where will this stop? The CLOUD act, which is considered incompatible with GDPR, affects any user identifiable data stored. So companies using AWS or any other US hosting servers could be required to hand over data.
How does this affect WordPress? I suspect lots of sites use Google Analytics, but also they store user data: comments store email addresses and IP addresses, WooCommerce stores purchase histories, BBPress stores more personal user data, or maybe you are self hosting your analytics on a US based server? Many WordPress users will be using WordPress.com stats through Jetpack, and obviously all WP.com users are using those stats too.
Realistically, it’s way too early to know how this will affect any of us. As with all these things, I imagine the focus will be on larger companies using these services. There wouldn’t be enough to gain from tackling the millions of small sites.
My hope is that the CLOUD Act is changed, or Google, Facebook, and co. change things somehow so that they are compliant with the EU regulations. But it’s definitely something we should all be aware of and considerate of.
The whole thing hinges on privacy and treating our website visitors with respect. This is why I made the switch to Fathom – in my mind the fact they are compliant justifies the additional expense. I’m paying for the service rather than my users. – Ben.
Twitch co-founder on where you’re going wrong
Justin Khan, co-founder of the Justin.tv site that turned into Twitch, the largest live-streaming site in the world, has a remarkably good YouTube channel. What a sentence!
Justin’s videos are really insightful. He talks a lot about building Twitch and entrepreneurship, but he also talks a lot about psychology. This video on habit building, at a time when the first cracks are starting to show in new year resolutions, is timely and practical. – Alex.
13 Design Trends From a Usability Perspective
It’s a new year, so it’s time to review your site and it’s goals. One of those goals should be to make sure that as many people as possible can view your website. The more accessible your site, the more people will visit it and spend money/ sign up to your newsletter/ whatever other action you want them to perform.
Design isn’t hampered by accessibility, design IS accessibility. This article goes over some recent design trends and looks at how to make them more accessible; although in some cases this involves not using them to start with.
There’s nothing technical in the article, it’s all about what you should, and should not, do. – Ben.
Alex got you an expensive spreadsheet
Most WordPress businesses have a really difficult time getting accurate financial data. It’s common to have difficulty getting renewal rates, breakdown of revenue across tiers, and revenue over time.
One of the fun things about working at Ellipsis is I get to see these problems across the industry, and then fix them! We have the scale to be able to solve problems that are common for clients. This one in particular has been extremely helpful to solve.
This time last year, I hired a Google Sheets expert to build us a financial modelling template, that would take the export of sales out of EDD or Freemius, and turn them into proper analytics. We’ve used this for our strategy clients over the last year, and it’s too useful to keep it for ourselves. The sheet will calculate a proper set of analytics from your sales data.
We’ve released the sheet for free, so you can make your own private copy and get the info to make better decisions for your business. – Alex.
This philosophy is great, add less, and it goes for more than just frameworks.
“You haven’t mastered a tool until you understand when it should not be used.”
– Kelsey Hightower