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Is Google Analytics GDPR compliant?

Published on: 2023-11-29 Is Google Analytics GDPR compliant?

Short answer: It's complicated.

The Danish Data Protection Authority (DPA) recently clarified misconceptions about the legality of Google Analytics in the EU, following misleading reports in the media. The confusion originated from the "Schrems II" case by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in July 2020, which declared most personal data transfers from the European Economic Area (EEA) to the US illegal under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This led to numerous complaints from a privacy group "noyb," accusing European companies of violating GDPR through their use of Google Analytics and Meta Pixel. Consequently, several EU countries' regulators found the use of Google Analytics to be illegal.

The core issue revolved around whether Google Analytics complied with GDPR rules on international data transfers. When a website or app uses Google Analytics, personal data from visitors is sent to Google's servers in the US. Following the Schrems II judgment, such transfers were largely considered illegal. However, EU regulators did not outright ban Google Analytics; instead, they emphasized that it could not be used legally without additional safeguards. The French DPA, for example, proposed using a proxy server to circumvent direct data transfers to the US.

In July 2023, the European Commission adopted a new adequacy decision, the EU-US Data Privacy Framework (DPF), allowing for legal personal data transfers to US companies, including Google. This framework is part of ongoing efforts to facilitate data transfers while respecting privacy laws, although its permanence is uncertain due to potential legal challenges. Nevertheless, the DPF makes the use of Google Analytics for transferring personal data from the EEA to Google no longer illegal per se.

Despite this development, the GDPR covers more than just data transfers. It encompasses all aspects of personal data processing, raising additional concerns for Google Analytics users. Issues such as the legal basis for processing personal data, data processing agreements, shared responsibilities between data controllers and processors, and the rights of data subjects remain pertinent. For instance, companies using Google Analytics must have a clear legal basis, such as consent, and must ensure compliance with GDPR in their data processing agreements with Google.

While the new EU-US DPF has mitigated some legal issues related to transatlantic data transfers, using Google Analytics in the EU still demands careful consideration of various GDPR requirements. Companies must evaluate the necessity and type of personal data they collect through Google Analytics, ensure they have a legitimate legal basis for processing such data, and be prepared to address data subject rights. Additionally, the possibility of future legal challenges to the DPF means that organizations must remain vigilant and adaptable to ensure ongoing compliance with EU data protection laws.

Want to learn more? Read our in-depth analysis.

In light of these ongoing legal complexities and uncertainties surrounding Google Analytics, businesses operating within the EU might consider adopting GDPR-compliant, EU-based analytics solutions, such as Wide Angle Analytics. These alternatives are designed specifically to align with the stringent data protection standards set by the GDPR, offering a more secure and compliant approach to data analytics.

By using Wide Angle Analytics, companies can ensure that their data analytics practices adhere to EU regulations, minimize the risk of legal challenges, and maintain the trust of their user base by prioritizing privacy and data protection. The EU-based solutions often provide the added benefit of keeping data within the EU, further simplifying compliance and offering a viable, long-term alternative to traditional analytics tools that face legal scrutiny in the European context.

Secure legal data processing for years to come.

Try Wide Angle Analytics!