An unexpected benefit of GDPR; it makes the web much faster

InstituteA web developer has revealed an unexpected benefit of GDPR; its potential to have megabytes-worth of tracking scripts removed from sites, making them much faster to load.

Marcel Freinbichler, an Austrian developer, looked at the sites of USA Today and The Verge, and the different ways they were approaching GDPR compliance. In both cases, significant time-savings are achieved as a result.

“Because of GDPR, USA Today decided to run a separate version of their website for EU users, which has all the tracking scripts and ads removed,” said Freinbichler. “The site seemed very fast, so I did a performance audit.

“How fast the internet could be without all the junk! 5.2MB → 500KB. They went from a load time of more than 45 seconds to 3 seconds, from 124 (!) JavaScript files to 0, and from a total of more than 500 requests to 34.”

In the case of The Verge, which like most other sites instead asks visitors for consent, by not agreeing visitors can achieve similar results. “The Verge shows a tracking-consent message when visiting the site from the EU,” noted Freinbichler.

“Most people will click ‘I Accept’ to make it go away, but if you don’t and hide the message via CSS, you won’t be tracked and the site is way faster: 32 vs 5 secs load time 61 vs 2 JS files 2 vs 1 MB”

Linking to Freinbichler’s findings, Apple commentator John Gruber takes aim at web developers: “The privacy implications of all the JavaScript that gets loaded for user-tracking is alarming enough, but practically speaking the bigger problem is that it makes the web slow.

“Web developers, generally speaking, are terrible at their craft. 124 JavaScript files and over 500 HTTP requests for a single goddamn web page is just shameful. Again I say: the web would be better off if browsers had never added support for scripting.”