Google Analytics Lawful Fierce Fight with German Privacy Agencies is Over

On September, 15, 2011 a ‘fruitful’ debate has finally come to an end: An agreement has been settled between Google and Hamburg’s data protection commissioner Johannes Caspar on behalf of the “Düsseldorfer Kreis” (a consortium of German data protection and privacy authorities): Website operators can - respecting some guidelines - use Google Analytics in compliance with German privacy laws. The web analytics community would rather speak of ‘fierce’ than of ‘fruitful’ debates but nevertheless please find listed below what actions are required to legally use Google Analytics on your website (see details here):
  • You are obliged to close a written contract with Google with respect to data processing.
  • You are required to change your privacy policy statement to include a note explaining the use of GA
  • You are obliged to offer your website visitors the opportunity to object the tracking of their data, the so called Opt-out Browser Add-on
  • Ensure the anonymization resp. shortening of IP addresses by implementing the “_anonymizeIp()” function on the website.
  • Website operators already using Google Analytics on their sites are obliged to delete all old data due to the fact that data collection was unlawful. The only safe way according to Johannes Caspar is to delete and close all old profiles and create new profiles. Be aware that you’ll have to adjust your tracking code when using a new profile!
When checking the above mentioned contract you’ll find an “interesting” paragraph with respect to contract period and termination (paragraph 14). Any party – you as well as Google can terminate the contract with a cancelation period of 7 days only. Within 3 days after termination you are obliged to delete all Google Analytics tracking code. This means that you as a website operator have only 10 days to completely de-install Google Analytics. The result: A black data hole.

(image source: Corvin Zahn, wikipedia.de)

Afterwards you won’t have the slightest idea what’s going on on your website. No scheduled reports, no alerts, no data unless you implement as fast as lightning a completely new web analytics solution. In any case don’t hesitate to contact our web analytics team to discuss your questions; we’ll find a solution suiting your requirements.