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No more cookie pop-ups

I've always despised cookie pop-ups. While the legislation that requires them was well intentioned it's implementation has done nothing to make the web a better place and has, on the whole, made websites much worse. The issue of mass surveillance and privacy theft on the web has reduced since the introduction of the cookie popups, but I'd argue quite strongly that it's not because of cookie popups. Instead technology changes and an increasing focus on privacy have had more impact. For a primer on website cookies, what they do and why the current state of affairs is such a mess then check out this excellent piece about cookie pop-ups from Dorri Olds at Wired.

Customer choice - they chose no cookies please

Cookie popups are there to offer website customers information and choice, and it's a rubbish choice, if it was offered honestly with an easy opt out then everyone would click the opt out button. The information they offer about how they use your data and who they share it with is overwhelming and terrifying. 

When Apple introduced the option to opt out of tracking cookies when installing an app 96% of users choose the opt out option

On public sector websites the cookie popups are required for one main reason, Google Analytics (GA). It's free to use and provides mountains of data to website managers to make decisions about the usage of the website and how users are interacting with it. It also has massive benefits to Google by pushing folks towards their Google Ads platform which is tightly integrated into GA. It gives Google the inside track on the behaviour of billions of web user activities every day, invaluable for the advertising business. 

Google Analytics uses cookies as one of the ways it tracks users. So public sector websites have to show cookie notices. Google Analytics 4 does have a cookie less option which is worth exploring, but there is another option.

Switching away from GA

You'll notice that there is no cookie notice on the Tailwind Digital website. That's because since Jan 2023 we've switched away from using Google Analytics for keeping track of how our website is being used and are now using Fathom* instead. 

There are a growing number of privacy aware analytics packages including:

I think the time is right for all public sector organisations to reevaluate there analytics situation and decide what the future might look like and if they can ditch the privacy compromising cookies and the invasive pop-ups. 

Other research in this area

I'd like to offer a big thanks to Ben Unsworth and Laura C for the work that Essex County Council have done and the findings that they have shared. This is the article that spurred the change at Tailwind Digital

* Full disclosure, as a customer of Fathom (yes we pay for the service) we have a referral link which we've used here. If you use it and also become a customer then we get a referral fee and you get $10 off. 

About the author

Tom Styles

From over 20 years of crafting digital solutions in both the public and private sectors, Tom has a wealth of experience at delivery and leadership level. Tom’s passion for human-centred innovative use of technology and his ability to communicate with both a technical and business audience help maximise value from technology investments.

Tom blogs about agile, technology, and occasionally DJing or Ultimate Frisbee.