Here's a new way to protect your web visitors' privacy

Personal data is about to get some wide-ranging new legal protections. How can you make sure you're ready?

James Wood

Here's a new way to protect your web visitors' privacy

Data privacy is one of the hottest topics in technology at the moment. Governments and industry are struggling to define the line where our personal information stops being solely ours and becomes accessible by companies and agencies.

What does that mean for you? Well, if you run a website you're almost certainly collecting personal information already. Newsletter sign-ups, contact forms and analytics all collect personal information about your visitors, so you need to make sure that you're not only complying with the law, but also honouring the trust of the people who visit your site.

The upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will have wide-ranging effects to the law for websites hosted in, or handling visitors from, the EU. It becomes enforceable from May 2018, so it's time to start your plan of action.

we're rolling out the option to anonymise the IP addresses collected in Google Analytics

For all of our customers, we're rolling out the option to anonymise the IP addresses collected in Google Analytics, which is a major first step towards ensuring your compliance with data privacy laws. This makes sure that the last few digits of any captured IP address (the number that identifies a user's computer) are set to zero before they are recorded in your analytics reports.

What are the effects of doing this? Well you won't be collecting any personally-identifiable information of your users without their consent, so that's a good thing. It will, however, slightly decrease the accuracy of the geographic location reports in your analytics.

IP address anonymization is more likely to distort geolocation identification at the city level than at the country and region level

ConversionWorks have done a great study of the impact on geolocation and concluded that country and region location accuracy is not greatly affected, with city-level location suffering slightly more. So if you rely heavily on analysing and targeting visitor behaviour by city, you may want to consider an alternative way to protect private data, such as getting opt-in consent for analytics.

Because each website's needs will be different, we're not enabling IP anonymisation by default. If you'd like to turn it on for your website, just let us know.

We'll be rolling out new data privacy features in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates.

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