The importance of data privacy

Why is Privacy important?


If you’re wondering why privacy is important, consider this: Around 70% of online users have taken active steps to protect their identity online. These measures include changing the privacy settings on their devices and using VPN services.

At Matomo, we understand the importance of data privacy, which is why we’ve celebrated Data Privacy Day (also known as Data Protection Day in the EU) every 28th of January since 2007. If you don’t understand why data privacy is important, this article will help. It covers everything you need to know about the importance of data privacy, what data companies collect about you and how to protect it.

Table of contents

What is data privacy?

Data privacy refers to one’s right to determine how companies collect and handle their personal data. Users also get a say in whether companies share their information with third parties and the right to be notified if it happens.

It differs from data security in that the latter deals with protecting data from unauthorised access, loss, corruption and theft.

Why is privacy important?

The top reasons why you should pay attention to data privacy

Privacy is the ability to control who can access information about our private life and our activities.

Here’s why data privacy is important to individuals and businesses.

1. Prevents identity theft

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) received 1.1 million reports of identity theft in 2022. Identity thieves use personal information to impersonate a user and carry out fraud in their name, earning millions of dollars; data privacy approaches this security issue proactively by limiting the amount of sensitive data companies collect.

The less personal information you have out there, the less risk you face of fraudsters accessing and exploiting it to impersonate you.

2. Reduces the impact of breaches

This ties into the previous point but looks at broader risks internet users face when their sensitive information falls into the wrong hands following a personal data breach. Aside from identity theft, there’s also the risk of ransomware, which poses a real threat to individuals just as much as it does to enterprises.

By minimising the amount of sensitive information you provide to companies, data privacy practices ensure there’s less personal info that gets leaked in a potential data breach.

3. Facilitates regulatory compliance

Some of the most well-known data privacy laws in effect today include the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

A business owner who implements strong protection policies has an easier time complying with data privacy regulations and standards. They enjoy business continuity because they don’t need to grind everything to a halt and overhaul their operations in preparation.

4. Supports consumer protection

Data privacy enforces consumer protection by safeguarding users against unfavourable business practices, such as companies selling data to third parties that target them with unwanted marketing.

By giving users the ability to opt out of sharing and giving them the right to be notified when a third party is involved, they’re better equipped to counter activities that would disadvantage them but profit the company.

5. Helps realise full human rights

By limiting how much personal information you give away and obscuring your online activity, you make it harder for entities to identify and target you. In places with repressive governments, online privacy goes a long way towards promoting free speech, one of the core human rights in constitutions across the world.

In addition to this, privacy is vital for individuals due to several other reasons:

  • Privacy gives us the power to choose our thoughts and feelings and who we share them with.
  • Privacy protects our information we do not want shared publicly (such as health or personal finances).
  • Privacy helps protect our physical safety (if our real time location data is private).
  • Privacy helps protect us as individuals, and our businesses, against entities we depend on or that are more powerful than us.
  • Privacy is tied to Freedom…. Could we really be free – and have free will – without Privacy?

What data is being collected about me?

Examples of data that companies collect about users online

Many of our activities leave a trail of data. This includes phone records, credit card transactions, GPS in cars tracking our positions, mobile phones (with or without GPS), and the list is growing. Online, almost all activities leave a trail of data which service providers will collect, such as instant messaging, browsing websites or watching videos.

Some of the data that companies collect about you include your:

  • Names
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Date of birth
  • Email addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Employment information
  • Locations
  • Browsing history

Companies may also collect social security numbers, device and advertising IDs, and credit information.

Some of this data is necessary for providing a positive user experience, but it becomes particularly problematic when your data is shared with big tech companies who use it for advertising purposes to profit off of you. They do this by building your digital advertising profile which is based on sites you have visited, searches you have completed, etc.

Even if you don’t use Facebook, Google for search or Chrome as your browser, there’s still a high probability that these big tech companies are tracking you. Moreover, even the “trustworthy” companies aren’t above breaching data privacy laws, as is the case with Google Analytics’ recently uncovered GDPR breaches.

For this reason, you should consider a partner like Matomo over Google Analytics, where you don’t have to choose between respecting your users’ privacy and getting results for your business.

Can we still maintain privacy?

Thankfully privacy is not dead (yet) but it is under threat. Some entities such as the NSA have made it clear that their goal is the end of privacy, worldwide. Without privacy, we will become easily controlled, manipulated and feel a loss of control over ourselves and our personal lives.

However, the good news is that now more than ever, many businesses, technologists, activists and others are hard at work to improve and maintain our privacy.

You can also take privacy into your own hands! Use a tool like Blacklight to check for privacy-threatening technology. If you see that a website is using something like (the, frankly, problematic) Google Analytics, kindly reach out to the company to ask that they consider using a privacy-friendly and ethical alternative.

We have drafted an email below that you can copy, paste and send to the company to help protect your privacy and do your part in creating a better internet.

					Subject: Concerns regarding [business name] using [technology]

To whom it may concern,

I am disappointed to see that you use [technology / “Google Analytics”] to track your website visitors, as this is a tool that uses data in unethical ways and threatens [business name]’s reputation. 

I care deeply about my right to privacy and can not support a company that uses a tool that shares data with big technology companies like [technology company / “Google”]. 

I ask that you reconsider the technology you use to track your visitors and look for a privacy-friendly [technology alternative / “Google Analytics alternative”] that gives you 100% data ownership, with no external parties looking in. 

Kind regards,
[insert your name]


If you’re excited about the possibility of taking charge of your privacy, we have more recommendations below.

How do I protect my privacy?

How to maintain your data privacy online with Matomo

Here are some ways to protect your privacy online.

1. Use privacy tools

Start by adopting tools designed specifically to address online privacy concerns, like VPNs and password managers.

This is also a good opportunity to start looking into alternatives to online services from companies that don’t put your privacy first. For instance, if you’re looking to move away from Google, you could use Matomo over Google Analytics, ProtonMail over Gmail and Mozilla Firefox over Chrome.

2. Limit the information you share

Be careful not to share any sensitive information, especially on public platforms like social media.

Apply this to any information that can identify you, starting from something as seemingly innocuous as your name. In most places online, you don’t need to use your real name and can simply use a pseudonym.

Even in an official setting, you can get away with not using your full name to present yourself publicly — consider going by your initials or just one name.

3. Stay safe online

Avoid public networks as much as possible, even if they’re in a place like a coffee shop that seems trustworthy. If you’re outside your own home, use mobile data and avoid unsecured HTTP connections on the websites you visit.

When browsing, use a reliable, independently audited VPN to make your traffic anonymous to others, including your internet service provider. Set up multi-factor authentication for your accounts for an extra layer of security.

4. Control access to your data

Avoid leaving your data in a position where it can fall into the wrong hands as a result of your own error. Wipe devices when selling them or if you plan on no longer using them, even if it’s only temporary. Look up the steps to factory reset the device if you’re not sure how to do this.

You should also always log out of accounts on shared devices to keep your credentials from being compromised, especially your email.

5. Know your rights

Find out what data privacy laws apply in your area and familiarise yourself with them. Look into what privacy rights they give you as a user and what limitations businesses have regarding your data.

6. Read the fine print

Before signing up for a service, go through their privacy policy with a fine-tooth comb so you know what you’re getting into. Even if you’ve already signed up for something, you should read these terms to determine whether or not you’re staying.

7. Ask questions

If you see terms of use that look suspicious while reviewing a privacy policy, contact the team and request an explanation. If you can’t get a straightforward answer, it might be time to take action.

How does Matomo protect my privacy?

Matomo is the leading open-source web analytics solution that respects data privacy and data ownership. It is an open-source platform built by an international team of volunteers and is used on more than 1 million websites worldwide.

Matomo data anonymity feature

When you use Matomo on your own infrastructure, you control everything. All data collected is stored only within your own database, and no other business (or Matomo team member) can access any of this information. The source code of the software is open- source and  is constantly reviewed by a global community of independent security researchers to ensure it is secure and keeps your data private.

An interesting example from Germany of how they take their privacy seriously: Berlin court rules Google privacy policy violates data protection law. For French websites, the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL), has confirmed that Matomo can now be used to collect data without tracking consent

When you use Matomo to track your users, you are in full control of your own data. Try Matomo for free today and take ownership of your data and users’ privacy. 

How Matomo protects the privacy of your users and customers

As well as keeping your data private and protecting your privacy (as a webmaster), Matomo helps to ensure the privacy of your website visitors and mobile app users. From the time we created Matomo, we have strived to build advanced privacy protections in Matomo:

These privacy features, along with the open and decentraliszed nature of Matomo, mean that your users’ privacy is ensured and respected.


Privacy is important to ensure our freedom as individuals. Respecting privacy is critically important for businesses dealing with sensitive customer data.

Matomo provides you with an open platform for your website and mobile apps analytics. Matomo ensures you respect your users’ and customers’ privacy.

Matomo is an open-source, GDPR-compliant alternative to Google Analytics that puts data privacy at the forefront. Start your 21-day free trial of Matomo to unlock the benefits of privacy-friendly analytics.


To continue the discussion, please get in touch via the forums or email us.

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A powerful web analytics platform that gives you and your business 100% data ownership and user privacy protection.

No credit card required.

Free forever.