Here at WJP Software we, like many web-based software companies, have relied on Google to provide certain complex features that would be incredibly time-consuming to produce ourselves in-house such as their Analytics and reCAPTCHA (spam prevention) products.
These products are incredibly well-made and useful, but certain actions by Google in recent years have started to concern us, such as their aggressive promotion of AMP Links and more recently, their plans to implement behaviour tracking for advertising purposes into the Chrome browser itself which we feel present numerous privacy concerns.
WJPS believe in an open-web and want to maintain complete transparency for our clients on how their data is stored and used, and so we’re making a concerted effort to move away from Google’s services to more open source and privacy-centric alternatives.
In the next update to our Web Communication System, we’re making a couple of changes in this regard, the first being to move our Analytics away from Google to Matomo – an open-source solution that allows us to store all Analytics data on our own servers so that we can ensure none of it is used for the purposes of advertising or machine-learning.
The other major change is moving to hCaptcha from Google’s reCAPTCHA. Captchas are a technology used to sort robots from human beings, and help in terms of spam prevention and preventing illegitimate users from registering on your site. If you’ve ever tried to register for a website and been asked to identify Trees/Bikes/Boats .etc then you’ve solved a CAPTCHA!
Though run by a third-party company, hCaptcha is a much more privacy-centered alternative that, in our testing, has still proven incredibly effective at reducing unwanted registrations and contacts.
So how will this affect you, our loyal customers? Well, from a usability standpoint, very little! Your WCS site will look and function as it did before, though you may notice that the Website Analytics shown within your sites ‘Welcome Page’ will show lower numbers than before, as they now draw from a new data-source when moving to the new system, however historic analytics data will be available upon request if you need it.
When Users register for your site, or submit queries through the contact form, they will still have to check the CAPTCHA box and possibly be asked to complete some small challenges to prove they’re human, but this behaves the same as the previous system, and so the only change you may notice is the different logos:
Overall we think that this is the right move to make as a company in order to safeguard our customer’s data and retain their trust, and looking at the technology industry as a whole and the recent moves to protect user privacy by large, influential companies such as Apple clearly demonstrate that we’re not alone in this respect.
Finally, it’s worth noting that all Analytics data accrued by WJPS will be thoroughly anonymised, and all data older than 720 days (2 years) will be routinely deleted as part of an automated process. This policy should ensure that our clients will be able to have enough data to analyse for the purposes of improving the usability and reach of their websites, whilst still practicing ethical data privacy and protection values.
Customers with WCS sites will be gradually updated with these changes (and other fixes and features) next month. We expect minimal downtime for our client sites while this update is performed.
For any further details, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: 04/08/2021 Published by: Tobias Johnston
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