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Make your website a black hole to big tech

opinion  Paul Jarvis · Dec 5, 2019

Google analytics is present on at least 70% of all websites on the internet. So, not only does Google know what most of the world is searching for through its search engine, it also knows what most people are doing on most sites once they click links from the search engine.

That’s why Google doesn’t need to charge for Google Analytics, they get access to such a vast amount of our personal data. It’s one of the biggest tech monopolies ever. What they do with all of our data is unknown, as their track record for caring about digital privacy is horrendous.

With a monopoly like this, even privacy-focused companies like Mozilla, Tunnelbear, 1password, and Cloudflare’s DNS service use Google Analytics on their websites. The problem is, most websites tech stack just assumes Google Analytics will be installed. We don’t point this out to shame those companies, since it was part of our own tech stack as developers before we started Fathom.

We’d never advocate that you work to remove yourself from Google’s search engine in the name of privacy. If you’re a business, that’d be a bad move, since it can drive vast amounts of traffic to your site. But, what if we collectively stopped using Google on our websites? That way, once someone clicked off of their search engine, it became a complete black hole in terms of data Google would get.

This is why we’ve built Fathom Analytics - to be a Google Analytics alternative and be privacy-focused web analytics. Our goal is huge but simple: to make as many websites as possible black holes for data to Google. Our analytics tracker doesn’t collect or share personal data, because our business model is almost the opposite of Google Analytics:

Google Analytics is illegal

It's also important to note that Google Analytics are illegal, based on a ruling from the Austrian DPA on January 13, 2022. So their software may be technically "free", but it can cost you a great deal of time and/or money if you get fined or have a complaint filed against your company for using their analytics on your website.

This is why we pioneered our EU Isolation solution for our customers, because the writing about this has been on the wall for some time. We don't want our customers to have to worry about digital privacy law compliance, which is why our software is built from the ground up to follow the rules set out by governments to protect privacy.

Fathom Analytics doesn’t sell data, we sell software.

It’s a very different business model.

Because we charge a fair price to our customers (starting at $14/m), we are only profitable if customers trust us not to collect personal information from their website visitors. It’d be against our interests and sustainable revenue to do anything that compromises this. We only become more profitable if we are data fiduciaries to our customers and the anonymous, aggregate website data collected. The way we’ve built our cookieless website analytics software makes it one of the most private and secure trackers on the internet.

I’m not sure when it happened, but tracking users and people across the internet has become almost the default thing to do. We are fighting an uphill battle to change people’s minds about this, as we don’t feel it’s the right thing to do. The tide is starting to turn, and more people and website owners are starting to realize how much data we simply give away to large tech companies. And moreover, we feel like anonymized data (aggregate data that shows trends) can be just as useful to most businesses, without tracking a single piece of personal info about your users.

Users of the internet, i.e. all of us, deserve better. It’s time to start setting up our websites to be black holes of data to Google and other big tech companies. They don’t need to know what our website visitors do once they get to our websites, and we don’t need to know personal details about our users to run effective and profitable companies.

At Fathom we are fighting the paradigm of “all data should be collected” and trying to move it “important aggregate data, nothing personal, should be collected”. This is why our product is a simple website analytics solution. We hope you’ll join us in this fight.

The internet was created for us, not for big tech monopolies.

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Paul Jarvis

Paul Jarvis, author + designer

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