With power comes great responsibility. While you might associate this line with the Spiderman films, it’s also good advice to keep in mind when you’re using analytics. In the push-pull of battles over online privacy, it’s often difficult to keep up with what’s legal, and what you can do using analytics tools.
Even though Google Universal Analytics offers features that give you unprecedented information about your visitors, Google’s usual privacy protections remain in place. Here are a few things you should know about security and privacy with Google Universal Analytics.
Not Much Has Changed
If you’re already using Google Analytics, not much will change for you in terms of privacy and security safeguards. Basic safeguards remain in place, like masking your visitor’s IP addresses, and those who choose to opt-out of tracking can still do so. Even though the new tracking code makes it easier to track users across multiple devices, their privacy, and the security of the data you collect, is still protected.
First-Party Cookies Give You User Info, Nothing More
In Google Analytics, first-party cookies, those that were associated with your website, contained several pieces of data, such as session time and the value of custom variables. Google UA limits the data it collects using cookies to a single data point, an anonymous, auto-generated unique visitor ID. Even better, Google UA can still collect data without cookies, further protecting your visitors from security and privacy concerns.
Don’t Identify Individual Users for Google
Google UA can help you learn about your site visitors, but if you upload data—such as social security numbers, email addresses, and a mobile phones unique device identifier—that will allow Google to identify individual users, your account may be terminated. You also need to get your visitor’s consent to collect and use their data, and provide them the opportunity to opt-out from these features.Some of Google UA’s new features, like tracking users across devices, appear to open the doors to privacy concerns. However, Google’s security protections remain in place, and they’ve added some new safeguards to protect your visitor’s data. Just follow the company’s own motto—“Don’t Be Evil”—and you’ll be able to take full advantage of UA’s features without worrying about security and privacy issues.