It is still not known whether the use of the Google Analytics site statistics service will continue to be permitted in the Netherlands. The investigation by the privacy supervisor, the Dutch data protection authority (AP), has now been completed, but a conclusion will follow “within this year,” an AP spokesperson told NU.nl.
For example, using Google Analytics, website owners can see the number of visitors. The program also provides insight into how visitors access sites.
Google Analytics may not comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), European privacy law. An Austrian regulator previously concluded that the program did not comply with the rules. The program will send Austrian users’ personal data, such as IP addresses, to Google in the United States.
In France, the opinion of the regulator CNIL was the same. A French website administrator has been given a month to comply with the legislation or to stop using Google Analytics altogether.
Since the beginning of this year, the Dutch Data Protection Authority has been investigating two websites of Dutch service providers using Google Analytics. It is not known which sites are involved. The investigation is now complete and a report has been prepared.
The regulator does not draw any conclusions yet. “The results are with the AP’s Enforcement Department,” the spokesperson said. “This department monitors the investigation and gives the websites that have been investigated and Google a chance to respond. Then Enforce decides on any penalties, but it’s too early to say anything about that.”
A possible ban has dire consequences
“Note: Use of Google Analytics may soon be banned,” the AP wrote in an online guide. If it really comes down to it, it will have a huge impact on Dutch websites, like web stores. “Almost all web stores and websites use the free tool Google Analytics to analyze their website traffic,” says Director Marilyn Ten Hamm of the Web Store Association Thuiswinkel.org.
Using data from Google Analytics, webshops can improve customer experiences, among other things, says Tin Hamm. The ban could mean that online stores are no longer complying with the law en masse. This means that they run the risk of receiving high fines.
Administrators can stop sharing data with VS
Google has already defended itself in a blog post by saying that the organizations themselves determine what data they collect and how it is processed. The data is sent to US servers by default, but Analytics users can opt out of this.
France’s privacy watchdog said Google Analytics already has measures in place to better control data sharing, but it’s not enough to rule out access to US intelligence agencies.
It is not yet known whether the AP is following up on data released by privacy watchdogs in other European countries. The regulator says it will discuss the matter at the European Data Protection Council, with which European privacy regulators are uniting.
“We’ll see how others do it, because it’s a shame you’re reinventing the wheel yourself,” an AP spokesperson said. But of course we have to deal with national law.”
The director of Thuiswinkel.org says there is an urgent need for new agreements between Europe and the United States to solve the problem of data sharing between the two continents. The so-called Privacy Shield protects Europeans’ personal data, but this was announced in 2020. New dates are on the way. Another solution is for Google to adjust its services and no longer share data with the United States, adds Tin Hamm.
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