On tracking and analytics

On tracking and analytics

I don’t have a cookie banner on my website–because I don’t use cookies. I don’t know how many people use my website. I’ve disabled even tracking clicks and opens for my newsletter. I won’t know how many of you open the emails. And I’m okay with that.

A few days ago, I had an issue with a bulk-dried-goods store here in Germany. I’d received a newsletter I never asked for, so I requested my data. Here in the EU, we have the right to know what data companies save about us, who they give it to, and what else they do with the data. So, I emailed them, requested said data, and told them to delete my account and all my data afterward. They didn’t comply, so I reported them to the appropriate consumer protection. The next morning, I received a call from the self-identified owner of the company.

He tried everything. He told me he’s a family business. He told me he tries everything to be environmentally friendly (fun fact: this is the company with the fake paper bags that sends multiple small packages even if you order in bulk). He told me I say on my website that I’m only human and make mistakes. He kept insisting that he’s not calling to make me retract my report. And then, he told me that their lawyers had a look at my website, and that there are things to report there, as well. I hung up after that. I won’t be threatened.

Afterward, because I am paranoid and anxious by nature, I checked my websites for the millionths time. Yes, still all good. No cookies. No tracking. No nothing. I don’t even embed anything. All the legally required information is where it needs to be. Yep, all good. So, an empty threat to boot.

After the phone call, all he’d accomplished was that I’d checked my websites again, and that I’m not absolutely sure I was right to decide no longer to order there. I’ll have to find a new bulk store, but that’s okay.

When I set up my newsletter, I disabled most of the tracking, but kept opens and clicks. After sending the first two–even though Mailchimp supposedly takes care of all the GDPR stuff–I decided to disable even those analytics. I won’t know if anyone opens my emails. And that’s okay.

In a world where cookie banners are just getting more and more annoying to make people not care. Actually, the vast majority of cookie banners out there isn’t compliant with law. I know, because I tried to figure out how to make mine compliant, and couldn’t. So, instead, I removed the necessity for them.

In a world where everyone tracks whatever they can, I decided not to. If I don’t like getting tracked, I can’t track you all either.

While I know that most of you wouldn’t care if I track you–after all, most of you likely accept all the cookie banners blindly–I care. I care about your rights. So, I’ll do what I think is right, even if it is more than is legally required.

The EU is far from perfect. You only need to follow the last few weeks. Adding all kinds of security systems to new cars starting next year will only make cars less possible for the poor who are most likely to be forced to move to a rural area where they need said car. Caving on already-not-enough legislation because farmers protest very loudly (and burn endless amounts of fossil fuels to drive around on their tractors or by keeping them running for their heating) will only lead to more protests in the future. But the EU also did some good things. And insisting on the protection of their citizen’s personal data is one of those things. Sure, they did that just as imperfectly as everything else. But at least, they did it.

And if you don’t care that you get tracked, you might want to learn more about what’s actually allowed. It’s a lot more than you’d probably be comfortable with–especially if you are outside of the EU. Stand up for your rights.