Where Your Data Lives

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 1 min read

Who Has More of Your Personal Data than Facebook? Try Google

Everyone has different opinions on Google and data, and I’m not going to litigate that here, but this bit about how Google still tracks you even when you elect not to opt into any of their services is depressing.

Google Analytics is far and away the web’s most dominant analytics platform. Used on the sites of about half of the biggest companies in the U.S., it has a total reach of 30 million to 50 million sites. Google Analytics tracks you whether or not you are logged in.

The idea of living a completely private life is simply not practical in the modern age. Even if you opt to live entirely outside of all of Google’s services, there are still upwards of 50 million websites that are that using Google to collect your data and follow you around the web. And of course, you have no idea what analytics package the website you’re going to is using unless you use a content blocker to try and block it.

Back on April 1, 2018 I turned off Google Analytics on BirchTree because of this exact issue. I want to know how many people are visiting the site and I like to have a general idea of what pages are getting traction, but I don’t want to opt you into Google on your behalf.

There was also this nugget that jumped out to me:

To be listed in Google’s Android app store, developers must agree to request only the information they need. But that doesn’t stop them from using “needed” data for additional purposes.

Yeah, Android added iOS-style prompts for some system features (like camera, location, etc.) but apps still have access to way too much data without the need to request permission from the user.