Recommitting to User Privacy and Data Security

Editors note: This post is being cross-posted to all of our blogs to highlight what we’re doing to respect your privacy and keep your data safe.

Since the beginning, Oz Media has made an effort to build privacy-minded functionality into our websites. It’s why we ask for the minimum amount of information when you sign up for our newsletters, and are as transparent as possible about advertisements, our relationships with manufacturers, and the features we build.

You should have a choice in how your data is used and collected. Data privacy laws worldwide place the responsibility of data security and privacy on the website. While we have taken steps to ensure any data we collect remains private and if possible anonymous, we can do better. That’s why we’re announcing two efforts we’re taking effective October 1. While you won’t notice a difference, the changes are significant under the hood.

Removal of Google Analytics Tracking

Google Analytics has become the “gold standard” in tracking websites. But its connection to Google means that any data tracked is stored by Google and not the website using it. This means we only know how we use any data collected. Our privacy policies reflect this, and this is why we also recommend you read Google’s privacy policy as well when we talk about analytics.

This is changing effective October 1. We have been testing Matomo Analytics, a privacy-focused Google Analytics alternative. Since it is hosted locally, any data collected is stored, managed, and solely viewable by us. While this data is shared with potential advertising partners, we do so in only general terms and have precise control over what we share.

Matomo is built to GDPR standards — far stricter than most privacy laws in the U.S. It also respects the “DoNotTrack” setting by default: we have no plans to deactivate that.

What about ads served by Google?

This is a great question. With Google having such a dominant position in the web advertising industry, it’s pretty difficult to avoid them. While we do ask that readers deactivate their ad blockers while visiting our site as it pays our writers, we understand why you use one (we do too).

While you might see a message asking you to deactivate your ad blocker, Oz Media sites will never penalize you by blocking access to our content.

Improving our Internal Security

Keeping customer data safe also depends on us, too. To this end, all Oz Media websites are transitioning to a new method of authentication starting immediately, with a goal of a completely passwordless system by the end of the year. Passwords are the #1 method of compromise in data breaches. So we’re aiming to reduce if not eliminate them over the next several months.

We are also working behind the scenes to streamline our processes to keep software up-to-date and our servers secure. Security updates are essential to keeping a website secure, and applying them as soon as possible must be a priority.

A new privacy policy

Across our sites, you will see a significant update to our privacy policy. This new policy is far more detailed than our previous one and brings us into compliance with worldwide privacy laws. This new policy takes effect on October 1. Among the most significant updates is a section that lists specific information on how your information is collected and used.

In addition, information on how to opt out of features and data deletion requests has also been updated. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us using the contact form on the site you’re reading this on.

We’re committed to respecting your privacy and keeping your data safe. However, there are areas where we can improve, and we think this is a good start.

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About the Author

Ed Oswald

Ed Oswald has nearly two decades of experience in technology and science journalism, and specializes in weather stations and smart home technology. He's written for Digital Trends, PC World, and TechHive. His work has also appeared in the New York Times. When he isn't writing about gadgets, he enjoys chasing severe weather and winter storms.