• Germany's news in English

Google Analytics targeted by data protection officials

The Local · 11 Jan 2011, 11:16

Published: 11 Jan 2011 11:16 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“Unfortunately we have come to the conclusion that Google has not complied with our data protection demands,” Johannes Caspar, commissioner for data protection in Hamburg where Google Germany is based, told daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Tuesday.

“We must clearly say: What Google offers is not enough.”

The free internet service Google Analytics gathers detailed information about website visits via a user’s IP address, sending the data back to Google servers in the United States for processing.

According to the paper, Caspar and data protection officials in other German states believe this practice should be illegal.

Caspar has been in talks with Google over the issue since November 2009, with the company agreeing to abbreviate IP addresses for anonymity, in addition to creating user protection modules for different internet browsers.

But Caspar told the FAZ that for some browsers, namely Safari and Opera, there is no such solution.

“Through this some 10 percent of German internet users are left out of the opt-out option,” he told the paper.

Caspar also alleged that Google still collects the full IP addresses of users who declare their wish for anonymity.

"Those who opt out end up in a worse position than those who don’t,” he said.

But Google Germany’s data protection official Per Meyerdierks told the paper that he was not aware talks with the country’s officials had been cut off.

Google Analytics has met European Union privacy standards since its first version and has met the demands of German customers, he said, adding that businesses who use the service also have the option to shorten their users’ IP addresses for anonymity.

But according to Caspar, Google is “playing for time” and sees no necessity to adhere to legal standards in Germany.

“For this reason they are using the circumstance that legal responsibility for the use of Google Analytics lies not with Google, but with website operators. Google is hiding behind their backs,” he said.

Caspar and the collective of state-level data protection officials, known as the Düsseldorfer Kreis, plan to find a way to act against companies that continue to use Google Analytics, he said.

Story continues below…

Those that defy the rule could face a “steep fine,” he said.

Meanwhile a test legal case against a large company using the service is also in the works, he said.

The issue puts Google in the crosshairs of German data protection advocates once again following the launch of their controversial service Google Street View in November last year.

The program, which provides online panoramic images of streets, public spaces and tourist attractions, sparked heated debate and led some 250,000 users to have their homes and businesses digitally obscured.

The Local/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

11:20 January 20, 2011 by scout1067
Don't the Germans take this data protection thing just a little too far? So now harvesting IP Addresses is illegal. What possible use could a company make of their users IP Addresses that would violate someones personal privacy? This is getting just a little ridiculous, it is starting to seem that the German Government just has it out for Google. There are something like 300+ companies that offer tracking/analytic services are they going to go after them too?
Today's headlines
German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder to mediate in supermarket row
Gerhard Schröder. Photo: DPA

Can Gerhard Schröder bring an end to the Kaiser's Tengelmann saga?

Outrage over ruling on 'brutal' gang rape of teen girl
The now convicted suspects, sitting in court in Hamburg. Photo: DPA.

A 14-year-old girl was gang-raped and left partially clothed and unconscious in freezing temperatures. Now prosecutors are appealing the sentences for the young men found guilty, most of whom will not set foot in jail.

Dozens of Turkish diplomats apply for asylum in Germany
Demonstrators holding a giant Turkish flag protest against the attempted coup in Istanbul in July. Photo: DPA.

Since the failed putsch attempt in Turkey in July, Germany has received 35 asylum applications from people with Turkish diplomatic passports, the Interior Ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

Hertha Berlin fan club criticised for 'anti-gay banner'
Hertha BSC beat FC Cologne 2-1. Photo: DPA

A 50 metre fan banner apparently mocking the idea of gay adoption has overshadowed Hertha BSC's win in the Bundesliga.

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd