Posted November 24, 2009 10:17 am by with 9 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

GA ShotAt one point in time US President John F. Kennedy triumphantly declared “Ich bin ein Berliner!” in a speech to the German people. Now the debate rages on as to whether the president proclaimed he was a Berlin citizen or a donut but that’s for another blog. Today though we learn from TechCrunch Europe that Eric Schmidt from Google may need to head to Deutschland to proclaim that he is one of the good guys as there are calls to ban Google Analytics from sites with a .de extension.

Several federal and regional government officials in Germany are trying to put a ban on Google Analytics, the search giant’s free software product that allows website owners and publishers to get detailed statistics about the number, whereabouts and search behavior of their visitors (and much more).

According to an article in today’s Zeit Online (poor Google translation here), multiple federal and state government officials charged with guarding over national data protection are convinced that Google Analytics is against the law in Germany and are mulling imposing fines on companies who use the service to gather detailed stats based on their website visitors’ usage patterns without the explicit consent of those visitors.

What is probably just as interesting in this quote is the swipe taken at Google’s translation service. I woudn’t know a good German translation if it came up and smacked me in the head (apologies to Herr Manger who was my German teacher for two years in HS. Nothing stuck other than “Ich habe keine idee” which I think means “I have no idea” – NOTE- This was confirmed by Google Translate 😉 )

So apparently this isn’t the first time that the German government has voiced these concerns with most of their worry pointed at healthcare data and other sensitive areas. Interestingly enough some of larger media organizations use Google Analytics so this should be fun to watch if it actually turns into anything.

So what’s at risk for those using Google Analytics

One German lawyer that gets cited in the article says the penalties could amount up to €50,000 (about $75,000) per website that uses Google Analytics to keep track of its visitors’ usage patterns.

Google’s take. Well, they disagree of course. What else would you expect?

Google Germany’s Per Meyerdierks, however, says the company is well within its rights to process user data in the United States because it respects the Safe Harbour treaty between the EU and the USA. He argues that an opt-out would be entirely unnecessary, and that users always have the option to refuse cookies anyway.

Now my question to the German government is the following. If you are uncomfortable with Google having this kind of data for many companies what about the individual companies that are collecting the same data using something else and not nearly as secure as Google is?

  • Jeremy

    My experiences with German people, even younger ones, are that while they like most of what the internet adds to their lives, there always is a diffuse “Angst” to be controlled by it. It seems to be something in the German soul that is scared of anything beyond their control.

    Here is a funny and interesting article about the German people’s approach to the internet:

    Funny how anything German prompts that old Kennedy quote.

    • Good point Jeremy. We need someone to do something to displace that quote. Anytime there is the threat, though, that a US icon actually called himself a donut makes it tough to move away from.

  • Arg! The governments of Europe are going to destroy the internet. First that stupid law they just passed requiring user consent for all cookies (which hopefully won’t stand), and now this.

  • Google is the real winner with the Analytics product what do you think they do with the data on their end? Nothing in life is free!

  • This is pretty rich really, coming from a government with senior members who want to plant spy programs on the computers of potential terrorists, etc! Or, of course you could ask about the data scandals at Deutsche Telekom and the Deutsche Bahn (German Railways – which belongs to the government)

    Politicians just don’t understand these issues, but they want to control as much as possible.

    I’ve just watched a documentary on German television about parents who choose to educate their children at home. The state prosecutes them and threatens them with huge fines and jail sentences, yet people who are too lazy to work and look after their children properly get handouts galore! The politicians have no sense of logic, so I suppose you can’t expect them to understand the internet!

  • I think its ok that google archives this data…
    .-= Gutscheincodes´s last blog ..Bei 75 Euro beim nächsten Urlaub sparen =-.

  • I’m from Belgium, Europe. I’m against anything similar to that German decision! As you guys said, very unlogical.

    I would not be surprised of decisions like these by Middle-East and Asian countries, but Germany …!? It makes me feel ashamed of my neighbor country!

    I truely hope this ban will not succeed.

  • I am googler too

    Nice business fine search

  • Well, web means a world of transparency. I don’t understand why they should dislike or feel afraid of Google Analytics. Whatever it is, I think sooner or later, many governments should learn that such attitudes belong to the past.
    .-= Website Promotion Blog´s last blog ..How to Get Search Engine Traffic via Images =-.