Google once used the “don’t be evil” slogan to distinguish itself from its competitors, but now a growing number of pro-privacy startups are rallying to the “don’t be Google” mantra.
They take on Google Analytics, a product used by more than half of the world’s websites to understand people’s browsing habits.
“Google made many of good tools for many of people”, says Marko Saric, a living Dane in Belgium who set up Plausible analyzes in Estonia in 2019.
“Corn over the years when they changed their approach without really thinking about what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s wrong, what’s not.”
Saric and many others benefit from the GDPR, a European regulation on the protection of privacy introduced in 2018 to control who can access personal data.
Last week, France followed Austria in declare Google practice of the transfer of personal data from the European Union to its US servers was illegal under the GDPR car the country does not have adequate protections.
Google disagrees, saying data is anonymized and scenarios considered in Europe is hypothetical.
Nevertheless, startups see an opening in a true David versus Goliath battle.
“The week Google Analytics was deemed illegal by the Austrian DPA (data protection authority) was a good the week for us”, says Paul Jarvis, who runs Fathom Analytics by son home in Vancouver Island, Canada.
He says new triple subscriptions over this week, although he does not give exact numbers.
Google dominates analytics market with 57% of all websites using son service, according to a survey group W3Techs. the best- tool set place privacy-focused, Matomo, accounts for 1% of websites.
The smallest players know they’re not going to overthrow Google’s dominance, rather their goal is to inject some of equity and choice in the market.
The moment of overeating for pro-privacy software developers came in 2013 when former CIA contractor Edward Snowden revealed how US security agencies have been engaged in mass surveillance.
“We already knew some of this,” says Matthieu Aubry, founder of Matomo. “But when it came out, we had proof that we weren’t just paranoid or doing stuff up.”
Snowden showed how the United States National Security Agency, aided by a system of secret courts, may have collected personal data from users of websites such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft.
the first what startups have aimed for is complexity of Google Analytics.
“You have 1,000 different dashboards and all this data, but it’s not help you if you don’t understand it,” says Michel Neuhauser, who launched Fair Analytics last month.
Jarvis, who had previously trained people at use Google Analytics describes it as a “behemoth”.
And they all make one key point of sale on their websites.
“An Alternative Internet”
But to live from these tools is no small feat.
Sarica of Plausible and Jarvis of Fathom sank time and money in their projects before they can afford a salary.
Both companies are still in business with a startup mentality – tiny teams working at distance through countries have direct contact with clients.
Aubri, who founded Matomo in 2007 while he was in in his early twenties, remembers being in a similar position.
“For a long time we didn’t even have a business around the project it was pure community”, says the French of son home in Wellington, New Zealand.
But he says son company has now global reach and he wants help create “an alternative internet” not dominated by Big Tech.
His peers are at a much earlier stage, but they certainly agree with the feeling.
Jarvis believes anyone go from one big tech the product is “a win for privacy” and contributes to creating a fairer environment system.
But a huge barrier remains: Google can afford to offer its tools for for free, while small businesses need customers to pay, even if just a few dollars a month.
Privacy-focused companies say it’s time to rethink our understanding of these operations.
“All of these free products that we use and love, we don’t pay for them with moneywe pay for them with data and privacy”, says Jarvis.
“We charge money for our product because it is just a more honest business model.”