Aldo Agostinelli

Surprise, surprise: the General Data Protection Regulation issued on May 25 by the European Union with regard to personal data treatment, is not taking useful data away from the web, on the contrary it is making the process of loading web pages easier.

Read the article in Italian.

After the avalanche of emails which fell on us on the days after the Regulation was issued, coming from companies, agencies, media etc asking us to authorize the treatment of our data  or to read their amended privacy policies (putting to the test even the most patient people among us!), we finally have some good news: the GDPR has actually forced websites to clean their closets. As a result a huge amount of tracking scripts, which used to slow down the process of loading web pages especially on mobile devices, have been removed to the advantage of both our schedules and also the web pages administrators who have recorded an increase in traffic. A win-win result, then: our privacy is now safe and surfing the web is actually much easier. And what about users’ data businesses need? Safe, as well.

To put it down in a non-too-technical nutshell, websites cleaning operations have led to the removal of hundreds of  useless megabytes which used to slow down the process of loading web pages. Let’s take USA Today a san example: the US newspaper has put online a separate version of their website dedicated to European users, in line with the GDPR Regulation and to do so, they had to scrap a lot of prohibited tracking files. So, he moved from 5,2 Mb to 500 Kb, from a loading time of 45 seconds to 3 seconds, from 124 JavaScript Files to 0, and finally, from  over 500 requests to 34 (An unexpected benefit of GDPR; it makes the web much faster).

John Gruber, designer of the user interface and inventor of the Markdown format explained: <<The implications of all JavaScript files loaded for tracking users are scary, but, basically, the biggest problem is that they slow the web down. Web developers, in general, are awful: 124 JavaScript files and over 500 HTTP requests for a single web page is simply outrageous. Once more I say: the web would be much better if browsers had never introduced a support for scripting>>.

Servebolt administrators do agree. In view of the introduction of the GDPR they decided to operate a selection among all users tracking services, maintaining only the useful ones. A clever move which has significantly increased the speed of their website, improved the users data safety and privacy and enhanced their control over data.  Of course the team has done more than simply removing some scripts: they have actually reviewed some procedures. Their example could be useful for those who have decided to clean up their closets, and if you are interested in doing so, you can read a through explanation  here: How we used GDPR as the opportunity to speed up our websites.

All in all, even in the case of the GDPR-Websites relationship, the “less is more” rule seems to apply.

After May 25 have you recorded any increase in the speed of the process of surfing the web via your smartphones or tablets? Tweet @agostinellialdo.

To find out more about the digital world, you may read my latest book: “People Are Media” 

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Aldo Agostinelli