Italy Joins France and Austria in Banning Google Analytics

Mountain View, CA/USA - May 21, 2018: Exterior view of a Googleplex building, the corporate headquarters complex of Google and its parent company Alphabet Inc.

Italy becomes the fourth country in the European Union after Austria, France, and Holland to ban Google analytics. In December 2021, Austria declared Google analytics illegal. Netherlands(Holland) and France came to the same conclusion in January and February 2022 respectively.

These countries argued that gathering users’ data on behaviour, demographics, and acquisition methods while transferring it to the US for marketing purposes is illegal. This week, Italy has also banned Google analytics on similar grounds.

Italian Data Protection Authority Garante says that it came to this conclusion ‘after conducting a thorough examination in collaboration with other European privacy authorities’.

Reasons for ban

Garante cites several ways in which Google does not comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, the main reason for the ban is the transferring of personal data to the United States. It greatly violates the GDPR laws whose primary goal is to protect the privacy of the European Union citizens.

As of July 2022, Google Analytics collects and transfers the following:

  • The time and date of the site visit
  • Users’ browser client information
  • Device IP address and screen resolution
  • Users’ device operating system and preferred language selection among other items.

This data is sent to the US without going through supplementary protection measures by European Union. As a result, the transfer does not meet the required threshold for the EU data protection standards.

Again, the law requires Google to disclose this data collected from EU citizens to the US intelligence services on request.

Is Encryption an Option?

Technically yes but it’s not practical at all. Since Google will be having the keys to the encryption, that means they can access the data anytime they wish to.

A more reasonable approach would be using a proxy server to avoid direct contact between the user’s terminal and Google servers.

Probably, the rolling of ‘privacy-centric’ Google Analytics 4 in 2023 may reach a middle ground between Google and EU privacy authorities.

As reported earlier, Google will replace Universal analytics with Google analytics 4 next year. Google has taken the following measures in GA4 to enhance privacy:

  • Google analytics 4 will no longer store IP addresses
  • GA4 will process data from the EU in the servers located within the EU.
  • It also allows the deactivation of Google Signals to prevent linking with Google accounts.