So just days after adding Google Analytics to a prospective German client’s site, I see this article entitled Google Analytics Targeted by Data Protection Officials:
German web companies could face hefty fines for using Google’s online metrics service after data protection officials broke off talks with the US internet giant this week and threatened to pursue a precedent-setting court case.
“Unfortunately we have come to the conclusion that Google has not complied with our data protection demands,” Johannes Caspar, commissioner for data protection in Hamburg where Google Germany is based, told daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Monday.
The free internet service Google Analytics gathers detailed information about website visits via a user’s IP address, sending the data back to Google servers in the United States for processing.
According to the paper, Caspar and data protection officials in other German states believe this practice should be illegal.
Caspar has been in talks with Google over the issue since November 2009, with the company agreeing to abbreviate IP addresses for anonymity, in addition to creating user protection modules for different internet browsers.
“For this reason they are using the circumstance that legal responsibility for the use of Google Analytics lies not with Google, but with website operators. Google is hiding behind their backs,” he said.
Caspar and the collective of state-level data protection officials, known as the Düsseldorfer Kreis, plan to find a way to act against companies that continue to use Google Analytics, he said.
Those that defy the rule could face a “steep fine,” he said.
So, in essence, it sounds like they think they’ll have a tough time beating Google in court, so German officials are going to go after businesses who use Google Analytics on their site instead, 99%+ of whom are not using the data they’re worried about protecting, and 95%+ of whom don’t even know what they’re talking about. Kudos, Herr Caspar.
I truly respect the protection of privacy, but this just seems like the wrong way to go about it.
Oh…and about the title of this post – here’s a screenshot of the article:
Not making any social/political commentary here. Just found the juxtaposition of the stories on The Local amusing.