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Google Analytics pinned in Austria for GDPR violations

An Austrian site finds itself at the heart of a massive GDPR case, which could have global repercussions. The various European regulators will take an interest in the way Google Analytics processes data from sites on the old continent.

In Austria, the data protection authority has just ruled on Google Analytics, considering that the tool does not comply with the GDPR. In a decision issued on January 13, the government institution explains that it is mainly the transfer of personal data between Europe and the United States that poses a problem. In the case of NekDoktor, who was presented to the Austrian regulator but is far from the only one: “This transfer was deemed illegal, as there was no adequate level of protection for the personal data transferred” says Matthias Schmidl, deputy director of the Austrian regulator.

Google Analytics makes it possible to analyze the behavior of Internet users on a site. Thanks to cookies, the tool is able to track the pages you read, the duration of your visit as well as information related to your device, whether you are on a smartphone or PC for example. A way for the owners of a site to know the consumption habits of their users and to adapt their strategy accordingly. Millions of sites currently use the tool offered by the Mountain View firm. But it is particularly the case of NetDoktor, whose specialty is health, which interested the Austrian regulator.

Towards the end of Google Analytics in Europe?

The case follows a series of complaints filed by the association Noyb “My Privacy is None of Your Business”, 101 in total, and the repercussions could be many. 30 other countries are currently analyzing the complaints filed by the association which concern both Google Analytics and Facebook Connect, which allows you to link your account to a site. At present, this decision only concerns Austria, and the specific case of NekDoktor. In the Netherlands, however, the data protection authority has announced that it is finalizing its investigation. The country does not exclude the possibility of prohibiting the use of Google Analytics in its territory.

The firm will have to quickly take measures to comply with European regulations. In a Google blog post, Alphabet’s President of Global Affairs and Chief Legal Officer explains “that it is time to adopt a new data transfer framework between the European Union and the United States“. He adds “a sustainable framework, a framework that ensures the stability of companies offering valuable services in Europe, will help everyone, at a critical time for our economies. We call for swift action to restore a practical framework that both protects privacy and promotes prosperity.”

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