We’ve come up with a list containing some of the best ethical alternatives to popular Google-owned products.
Launched in 2005, Google Analytics is a platform used to track and report on website traffic, and accounts for a significant share of the online analytics market.
It’s free to use, but by doing so you’ll be handing Google even more of your data. (There’s also a premium version, Google Analytics 360, which features a variety of paid tiers.)
If you plan to record website traffic, it’s best to have a transparent policy about any data collected, so we’ve listed a couple of great ethical alternatives below:
For web analytics, 1,336,176 websites currently depend on Clicky to monitor, analyse, and react to their traffic in real time. It produces detailed reports with a range of additional data available, and you can see how its features compare with big names in the sector.
It’s also General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-compliant, and works to anonymise visitor IP addresses by default.
AT Internet provides “flawless data quality powered by an advanced, ethical and user-friendly solution”. That ticks the majority of the boxes in terms of what we’re looking for; it further notes that:
“AT Internet has always held the protection of users’ data and respect for their privacy as a fundamental value and a guiding principle. As a result, our Analytics Suite is fully compliant with the GDPR. We provide our customers with real guarantees, meeting the strictest privacy criteria.”
However, it’s worth mentioning that the company was acquired by Piano Software Inc. in 2021, for an undisclosed sum. We’ll have to wait and see whether this affects the service in the long term.
Plausible is marketed as a simple, lightweight alternative to Google Analytics. Their script is 14 times smaller, which should mean quicker load times, and key information is stored on a single page. It’s open-source and available on GitHub, and is committed to giving the user full ownership of their data. It’s great if you’d prefer a minimalist approach, and also emails users a weekly report including key stats like “pageviews, visitor numbers, top pages and top referrers for the week.”
Countly is an analytics platform that offers a chunkier experience than Plausible. You’ll still find all relevant information on a single dashboard, but with additional detail about everything from custom actions to tracking individual sessions. Countly gives the user full control and ownership of their data. It’s a UK-based company, but all employees work remotely.
Fathom Analytics provides “simple, useful website stats” without tracking or storing personal information about its users. Instead, it collects data about trends and insights, so there are no ethical ramifications about optimising your website traffic. Everything is available via a single screen, and it’s “built on modern, cloud-based technology.”
Ethical Google Search Alternatives:
Google’s quintessential service, its search bar helped the company to grow into the behemoth we know today.
Over the years, Google has faced numerous complaints about its search function. For example, there’s the use of dark patterns to get users to click on ads, or the censored version released to comply with Chinese regulations.
After a $5bn fine for the way Google promoted apps on the Android OS, the company allowed different search engines to be installed as default apps on its devices in Europe. It did so to meet EU regulations, but by proposing an auction, with spots going to the highest bidders, its methods still raised eyebrows.
Ethical search engine Ecosia released a response, saying that it would “not be taking part in Google’s revenue-making auction. We are calling on Google to cease damaging, monopolistic behavior. Android users deserve the option to freely choose their search engine, and that choice should not be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Google has chosen to give discrimination a different form and make everyone else but themselves pay, which isn’t something we can accept.”
Given their strong stance, it’s only fair that we add Ecosia to our list of recommendations. It uses ad revenue from searches to plant trees, so are hard to ignore if you’re looking for an ethical option. Founded in 2009, the browser is completely free, and the company aims to bring reforestation to those who need it most. To date, it has planted over 69 million trees and counting, as well as helping coffee farmers in Colombia and protecting orangutan habitat, among other projects.
MetaGer states that it “protects against censorship by combining the results of multiple search engines. Our algorithms are transparent and available for everyone to read.”’
In terms of the collection and use of personal information, it says: “By using MetaGer you retain full control over your data. Our anonymizing proxy keeps you protected even when you continue surfing. We don’t track.”
DuckDuckGo is a nifty alternative search engine with none of the worrying privacy problems associated with Google. Your IP address isn’t stored, and your user information isn’t logged – meaning search results aren’t skewed by your history, and your browsing data is private. DDG is customisable, with options and themes like Dark Mode. It’s also popular, as they record 1.3bn searches per month. It takes time to disconnect from Google’s web, but DDG makes the switch painless.
Searx is another popular metasearch engine solution.
A metasearch engine (or search aggregator) is an online tool that uses the data of other search engines to produce its own results. In other words, it’s like using multiple search engines like Yahoo!, Bing, and Google at the same time. (Roughly 70 are supported at the time of writing.)
It’s self-hosted, and there’s no user tracking or user profiling. Searx protects the privacy of its users in multiple ways, regardless of type (private/public). Removal of private data from search requests comes in three forms:
- Removal of private data from requests going to search services
- Not forwarding anything from a third party’s services through search services (e.g. advertisements)
- Removal of private data from requests going to the result pages.
YaCy is a distributed web search engine, based on a peer-to-peer network. Its FAQ notes:
It will take some getting used to, compared to Google search, but it promises that you “don’t need any special knowledge or additional software” to get started.