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The Google Trap » Blog Archive » Google’s last minute panic Google’s last minute panic - Google, Analytics, Google’s, Weichert, Schleswig-Holstein, Moreover, August, Finally - The Google Trap

Google’s last minute panic

The admonition of Google Analytics (GA) by the privacy officials in Berlin and Schleswig-Holstein, Alexander Dix and Thilo Weichert, issued two days ago, has not been ignored by the public. Many authors of websites have contacted the officials and enquired whether they have to deactivate the service to act in a privacy policy conform way. The warning issued by Dix and Weichert that Google Analytics may not be in line with data protection acts discomfited many website operators using the service. I am convinced that soon there will be an influx of warnings issued… but we first have to wait for Google’s response to the current situation. The company may wait until the beginning of August before they issue an official reply.

Attached, the original excerpt from the press release of the ULD:

“The Goal of the ULD is not to blight specific or constructive forms of online analytics and statistics. We also do not have the goal of directing our findings at a specific corporation. Our sole goal is, within the scope of our powers, to promote privacy in the Internet. And even though we believe Google Analytics is, to a certain extent, violating data protection acts, we will not warrant fines to website operators in Schleswig-Holstein that utilize Google’s service. But we do have to concentrate on the massive data protection fraud by promoting transparency and a free exchange of information. Google was given a deadline by us (August 1, 2008) to answer a certain number of legal questions, which, in turn, will enable us to make conclusions about the legality of the service. At the moment, we are not certain, how – due to the transfer of user-sensitive data to a country outside the European Economic Area – Google Analytics complies with data protection acts.

The legal requirements of tools that track or create user statistics online are clear: an individual-related collection and analysis is illegitimate. And a pseudonymous evaluation of data may only occur if the user is informed in a clear way. Moreover, he must be informed that he may opt-out of the analysis procedure and given the option to do so before any of his data is collected by the website. Finally, the tool must guarantee that there is no superordinate concatenation of the pseudonymous data with any identification markers of the original data. We have not yet received any guarantees of these conditions by Google. Moreover, we face the problem that the data is forwarded by Google to a storage area which cannot be guaranteed to be sufficiently safe. We hope to receive clear and checkable statements from the corporation in this matter.

Until now, we have only conducted one technical inquiry of Google Analytics – and this only within the scope of what we perceived to be technically possible. There are many other services online, of which we are currently also collecting data; yet we cannot yet give any statements in reference to these. Our focus on Google Analytics is based on the popularity of the service. We advise website operators to request a seal of data protection approval, which requires a legal and technical privacy protection examination.”

Google is getting nervous – next Monday, I am invited to an interview with a German radio station. The journalist also wanted to invite a Google representative, yet was unsuccessful at doing so – I knew this would happen. No representative of the company is prepared to face criticism. Whatever the reason may be. According to the journalist planning to conduct the interview the Google representative was “extremely aggressive”. I am not surprised that this is the case – now that Google’s colorful world is beginning to become dark and monotonous, and the company has to face more and more uncovered details about their daily misconduct…

1 Comment zu “Google’s last minute panic”

  1. Andreas:

    Google hatte am Anfang ein einfaches geniales Produkt. Daraus wurde mehr und jetzt kriegen viele Angst. Das erinnert mich irgendwie an Microsoft….