Privacy-Compliant Tracking: Why Server-Side Tracking is the Solution for GDPR
Privacy-Compliant Tracking: Why Server-Side Tracking is the Solution for GDPR

Bünyamin Alirkilicarslan

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~7 min reading time

Discover how server-side tracking helps businesses meet GDPR requirements, obtain more accurate data, and improve website performance.
Privacy-Compliant Tracking: Why Server-Side Tracking is the Solution for GDPR

Introduction

In today's data-driven world, it is essential to ensure user privacy protection while providing valuable information to businesses. This is where server-side tracking comes into play, a technique that helps meet these requirements. In this article, we will examine why server-side tracking is the ideal solution for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

What is server-side tracking?

Server-side tracking is a method of capturing user activities and data where the information is processed and stored directly on the web server instead of the user's device (client). This minimizes privacy risks while enabling more accurate tracking of user interactions.

The importance of GDPR

GDPR is a European data protection regulation aimed at ensuring the protection of personal data of EU citizens. It sets strict requirements for companies on how they handle such data and protect user privacy. Non-compliance with GDPR can result in significant fines and legal consequences.

Differences between client-side and server-side tracking

With client-side tracking, data is collected and stored on the user's device (e.g., through cookies) before being sent to the server. While this method is commonly used, it can lead to privacy issues and is more susceptible to inaccuracies and manipulations.

In contrast, server-side tracking involves capturing and processing data directly on the server, avoiding the aforementioned problems. This leads to improved privacy compliance and more accurate data.

Advantages of server-side tracking

Privacy

Server-side tracking is better for privacy as it does not store sensitive information on the user's device. Since the data is processed directly on the server, the need for cookies and other client-side storage technologies is reduced. This is particularly important in relation to GDPR, which imposes strict requirements on handling personal data.

Accurate data measurement

Since server-side tracking captures data directly on the server, it is less vulnerable to manipulations and inaccuracies that can occur with client-side tracking. This allows for more precise measurement of user activity and provides more reliable data for analysis.

Performance improvements

Server-side tracking can contribute to better website performance as it consumes fewer resources on the user's device. Client-side tracking may require the user's browser to execute additional JavaScript code, which can impact page load times. By shifting the data processing to the server, the burden on the user's device can be reduced.

Reducing ad-blocker issues

Since server-side tracking does not rely on cookies or other client-side storage technologies, it is less susceptible to problems associated with ad-blockers and other privacy tools. These tools can interfere with client-side tracking and result in inaccurate or incomplete data.

Transitioning to server-side tracking

Technical requirements

Transitioning to server-side tracking requires some technical adjustments, including setting up a tracking server and modifying existing tracking code. In many cases, it is possible to extend existing tracking solutions such as Google Analytics or Matomo with server-side plugins or modules.

Implementation in existing systems

The integration of server-side tracking into existing systems may vary depending on the specific requirements of the company. However, in many cases, it is possible to gradually introduce server-side tracking and operate it in parallel with existing client-side tracking. This allows for a smooth transition while minimizing the impact on data collection.

Conclusion

Server-side tracking is an effective and privacy-compliant method of capturing user activities and data. By shifting the data processing to the server, companies can meet the requirements of GDPR, obtain more accurate data, and improve website performance. Transitioning to server-side tracking requires some technical adjustments, but the benefits outweigh the challenges.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Is server-side tracking GDPR-compliant?

Yes, server-side tracking is GDPR-compliant as it better considers user privacy and provides better control over the processing of personal data.

2. Can I run server-side tracking in parallel with client-side tracking?

Yes, it is possible to set up server-side tracking in parallel with client-side tracking to enable a smooth transition and maintain data collection.

3. Does server-side tracking impact the performance of my website?

On the contrary, server-side tracking can even contribute to improving the performance of your website as it consumes fewer resources on the user's device and reduces the amount of JavaScript code that needs to be executed in the browser.

4. Does server-side tracking work with popular analytics tools like Google Analytics?

Yes, many analytics tools such as Google Analytics or Matomo can be extended with server-side plugins or modules to enable server-side tracking.

5. How complex is the transition to server-side tracking?

Transitioning to server-side tracking requires some technical adjustments, such as setting up a tracking server and modifying the tracking code. The effort may vary depending on the specific requirements of the company, but the benefits usually outweigh the challenges.


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