Data Protection Authority (DPA) agencies across Europe are questioning the GDPR compliance of Google Analytics. The Austrian DPA deemed the Google service non compliant due to the way it saves and processes data and the Dutch DPA announced that the service will possibly be banned in the near future. In this article we predict the impact of this decision on your business.
How did we get here? Well, Google Analytics stores data of European citizens in the United States and American security services have access to that data. Since the EU-US privacy shield is no longer a valid mechanism, the DPA opened an investigation on Google Analytics’ longstanding exception within the European GDPR.
This exception allows Google Analytics products to be implemented without the consent of users with a few conditions. They achieved this position because apart from the marketing-enabling way, there is also a privacy-friendly way to integrate Google Analytics.
As we await a final conclusion of the investigation, we examine the consequences of three possible scenarios for companies that use Google Analytics.
Google Analytics maintains its exceptional position and can still be used for privacy-friendly data collection without the requirement of explicit consent of the users, if implemented with necessary conditions. If you are interested in these conditions, we recommend downloading our full hand-out on this subject below.
In this scenario there will likely be no direct follow-up actions required when using Google Analytics if the configuration is in line with current regulations.
Google Analytics loses its exceptional position and data collection through Google Analytics can no longer be implemented without explicit consent of the user. This applies both to the privacy-friendly and the marketing-focused implementation.
This would mean that Google Analytics can only be implemented if the user gives explicit consent. The complete implementation becomes conditional resulting in fewer users, sessions and interactions that can be measured.
Google Analytics will no longer be allowed by the DPA and cannot be used anymore. Data collection using Google Analytics, regardless of its purposes, has to be stopped and it can no longer be used for marketing purposes.
Companies will have to search for alternative data collection methods for analytics purposes.
These do exist, of course. We think of alternative analytics products, such as Adobe Analytics, open source alternatives such as Matomo or implementing your own measuring system or first party pixel.
At the time of writing, there has not been a final decision by the DPA so we recommend preparing your business for all three scenarios. To help you with that, you can request our full hand-out on the topic. Interested? Send an email to Bjorn van Assouw (Digital Analytics Consultant) at firstname.lastname@example.org.