Will Google Analytics be banned in Europe?
Posted on March 3, 2022 (Last Updated: March 03, 2022)
The discussion about the ban of Google Analytics and similar US based cloud softwares is on the table now. Why is this happening, and what are the implications?
Conflict of regulations governing Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a US-based cloud software that operates according to American regulations, namely the Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act). In Europe within this area the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is in effect. The problem arises where these two regulations contradict each other. For instance, US authorities can demand data from Google, Facebook and other providers even when they operate outside of the US, therefore the appropriate level of protection outlined by the GDPR can not be ensured.
What sparked the changes?
The discussion started when a case was filed over a user visiting an Austrian medical website (NetDoktor). The cookies placed on this website by Google Analytics tracked the activities of the user, collected and forwarded sensitive data to the United States.
This example is by far not a stand-alone case. For instance it was also revealed that the European Parliament's Covid-19 testing website faced the same issue due to using Google Analytics’ cookies.
Who does this affect, and what will happen next?
What happens to Google Analytics is relevant to nearly all EU websites, since it is the most common analytics platform. If things remain unchanged, websites will need to make a decision whether to continue using Google Analytics and risk a penalty for breaching the GDPR or to remove the tool from their websites.
From the perspective of the cloud software, things can go in two different directions. To make sure that websites can continue to use their service legally, the US data protection guidelines need to be altered to align with the ones in effect in Europe, or US providers will need to host their EU data outside of the states. Currently there are no indications on what Google’s solution will be.