Google Analytics violates the GDPR according to the Austrian Data Protection Authority. Decision radically highlights vulnerability and legal uncertainty of website and webshop data.
The decision of the Austrian Data Protection Authority on Wednesday, January 13, 2022, has hit like a bomb and has far-reaching consequences: The use of Google Analytics in the form dealt with violates the Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO).
The concern in Austrian companies is accordingly great and the legal search for economically viable ways to solve the problem and legalization, in web-oriented data management for DSGVO compliant website analysis and data collection, has increased immensely overnight.
The Austrian Data Protection Authority made a far-reaching legal decision on January 13, 2022: The use of Google Analytics, the globally dominant tracking tool of the US-based Google Group for website traffic analysis, contradicts the Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO).
First decisions of the Austrian Data Protection Authority
The first decision (101 sample complaints have currently been filed)
of the Austrian Data Protection Authority relentlessly shows how high the dependency on the Google Analytics tool is. Although the Corona pandemic has led to a boom in digital shopping and services — e-commerce, homeschooling, videoconferencing — companies have generally regarded website and store data as insignificant. As a result, dealing with it has hardly been an issue in corporate decision-making circles.
“The fading out of the handling of website data on the part of many decision-makers is incomprehensible. After all, this digital data is increasingly determining the success or failure of companies. They are emblematically one of the most precious raw materials of the present and future, comparable to the importance and dominance of oil in past decades,” says Gerhard Kürner. So, in the end, it is absolutely incomprehensible how one can leave this valuable and sensitive data to a free tool, which then evaluates and uses it for its own purposes, he said. “No company would simply pass on its own accounting, production control or CRM data to a free tool from an external third party — but when it comes to website data, most have thought nothing of it. This is taking revenge with the decision of the data protection authority. Due to the renewed data protection problems of this approach, a rapid and radical rethink is now called for,” Kürner emphasizes.
Simply switching off Google Analytics would be a legal, but not an economically effective ad hoc solution. After all, website data is often the beginning of a customer relationship. They enable targeted and efficient market cultivation. No company can afford to leave this competitive advantage unused. In addition, website data is the central control factor for companies when it comes to communication with and services for existing customers. It is precisely this major influence on the success of corporate activities that is the main reason why Google Analytics has been able to become the dominant provider worldwide.
But there are strong alternatives to Google Analytics.
For example, the marketing data science & analytics company 506 uses the European privacy market leader Piwik PRO for its customers for data tracking.
The associated major and, since the decision of the data protection authority, decisive advantage: the website data belongs exclusively to the customer — and not to external service providers. The respective company thus acts in compliance with DSGVO, uses the website data for its own business success and, above all, can continue to use this valuable data to consistently improve communication with prospects and customers.
“There is no way around data-based management. But it must be compliant with the GDPR. Only in this way can companies achieve a comprehensive picture of their customer and marketing processes in a legally correct manner and thus unassailable by third parties, consistently greatly improve their own corporate service and corporate communications, and increase business success,” Gerhard Kürner is convinced.