Over the last few days, online privacy has been brought to the international foreground as the EU calls for stronger protection of Internet users' personal information. The Justice Commissioner for the European Union, Viviane Reding, announced new legislation set to be introduced next year, which will replace current 15 year old laws. "We need to bring our laws up to date with the challenges raised by new technologies," Reding said in a press conference last Thursday. This comes exactly one year after government officials in Germany tried to ban the use of Google Analytics.
The capturing and storing of IP addresses is a pivotal point in the discussion, with legislation varying from country to country. In theory, an IP address could be used to tie a visitor back to a physical address, and therefore to an individual, with or without the user's consent. Germany, boasting the strictest guidelines regarding IP address collection, has set down four main restrictions companies must adhere to when collecting this level of personal data:
- Users must consent to their data being collected.
- The company needs to allow users the right to object or verify their information.
- The company needs to delete the information of a certain user at his/her request.
- IP address information is saved for a limited period of time only.
The US, though not as tough as Germany or the rest of the EU when it comes to privacy laws, is soon expected to follow suit. At the moment, Google saves full visitor information for 18 months, after which they "anonymize" the data by masking the last few digits of the IP address. However, as pressure mounts from groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, this could soon change.
The Clicktale "IP Free Tracking" Pledge
At Clicktale, we have always regarded end-user privacy as a top priority, and today we want to go one step further to strengthen that commitment.
From November 21st, Clicktale will no longer store visitors' IP addresses.
When a visitor comes to a site using Clicktale's web analytics, our system will extract the country of origin from the IP, but not store the IP itself within our system. This makes Clicktale the first web analytics solution in the industry to offer such a promise.
This pledge adds to Clicktale's existing privacy policies, which include:
- Full opt-out service - Clicktale was and still is the first and only web analytics solution to offer a full "opt-out" service to anyone who does not wish to be recorded. This is as simple as going to our opt-out page and clicking the "Disable Clicktale" button. You will then no longer be recorded by any Clicktale customer.
- Clicktale does not display un-submitted information - In addition to never collecting user passwords, or any other information deemed as "sensitive", Clicktale never displays information typed into an online form that was not subsequently submitted. For example, if you are half way through filling in a checkout page, and then decide not to complete your purchase, any personal information you have already typed in will not be shown to a Clicktale customer while viewing the video session playback. (Note: As ClickTale knows a keystroke took place, but does not show what it was, this does not affect the performance or accuracy of our Form Analytics suite.)
- No cross-domain tracking - Clicktale does not track visitors moving from one domain to another, even if they are both owned by the same customer. This gives each visitor a unique identification per site, and stops Clicktale customers from creating personal "profiles" based on cross-domain behavior.
We'd love to see other web analytics solutions take the same pledge in the next few weeks and months. In the meantime, you can continue using Clicktale's incredible suite of web analytics reports, rest assured that your visitors' privacy is 100% secure.