ProtonMail and Google Analytics

Update: We no longer use Google Analytics for metrics used to better serve our users. We’re instead using a self hosted version of Matomo. For more details about our analytics and logging policies, please visit our privacy policy.

Many people have asked us why a service that promises users are anonymous is using Google Analytics. First, we just want to be very clear that Google Analytics is only used on our home page and our blog. It is NOT used on any of the back-end pages that users view when checking their email.

That being said, our use of Google Analytics is not contrary to our mission to keep users anonymous. Like any web service, we do need to have some analytics as this provides important information on users demographics that allow us to better serve ProtonMail users. For example, by looking at aggregate information like geographic distribution, we can better prioritize which languages we should support next. Then, a view of the most popular resolutions and browsers used to access ProtonMail allows us to decide which browser support to prioritize based on what most users want.

However, typically if you want to collect these aggregate statistics without the use of third party tools like Google Analytics, it is necessary to analyze server side logs. But to keep users anonymous, we perform minimal logging on our servers. Basically, we don’t have any logs that allow us to link a particular account to a certain IP address. So it is because of the fact that we have no logs that we need to use Google Analytics.

The main identification information that Google has via analytics is which IP addresses visit our home page. This itself is not any special information because your ISP would also have this information and it is impossible to tie this information to any specific account because ProtonMail has no logs on our end that would allow a third party to match an IP with an account.

About the Author

Proton Team

Proton was founded by scientists who met at CERN and had the idea that an internet where privacy is the default is essential to preserving freedom. Our team of developers, engineers, and designers from all over the world is working to provide you with secure ways to be in control of your online data.

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5 comments on “ProtonMail and Google Analytics

  • I unterstand the intension to use an analystic tool, but isn’t it possible for you to use an other analystic tool, that you can host on your own server so that no data is send to other companies?

    • Hosting the data ourselves would mean that we have logs to turn over which we hope to avoid. We may switch to another analytics provider in the near future so we aren’t using anything Google related.

      • Piwik is a good alternative. It’s self-hosted and you can limit the data it tracks. You could, for example, set it up to only track hits, visits, and the origin country. I use that limited tracking on a reverse proxy I created for the Tor Browser. That NGINX instance doesn’t even log the IP so Piwik has no way of tracking it either. It also doesn’t record browser information or OS information, so the folks who use my proxy are totally anonymous – Piwik only tracks how many times it’s accessed and from what countries. (The main purpose for creating the proxy was to allow those in censored countries to access the Tor site, so this data is useful)

        • It looks like they took your suggestion, Friend. Cheers sharing your insight to better this service so many of us are keen on using!

  • Why are you trying to extract html5 canvas data when a user visits your site? That’s not exactly a move calculated to ensure either privacy or anonymity.