Being transparent & privacy aware: ditching third-party trackers in Strathprints | Open Access @ Strathclyde

 

George Macgregor
Scholarly Publications & Research Data, University of Strathclyde

Over the years, and like a lot of websites, Strathprints has historically made use of third-party integrations. Some of these integrations have provided us, and Strathprints users, with useful functionality over the years. But because these integrations involve the implementation of tracking code within Strathprints, they have also entailed third-party cookies being attached to our users. This is most notable in our use of Google Analytics and AddThis, the former providing analytics on web traffic and the latter providing convenient social sharing buttons and web analytics. In fact, the Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC) also entails the DoubleClick cookie used to enable remarketing for products like Google Ads, while AddThis engages in browser fingerprinting.

Given the tracking that is increasing occurring within the scholarly publishing industry generally, and the sometimes-nefarious purposes to which the collected data are being put, we feel it is inappropriate for an open repository like Strathprints to continue to use additional and unnecessary forms of tracking. We have therefore recently removed Google Analytics from Strathprints altogether and have implemented alternative social sharing options to replace AddThis. An additional benefit of removing these tools is that Strathprints is serving less Javascript, which helps to promote quicker page loading – so the benefits go beyond superior privacy to include a better user experience!

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