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Google Analytics breaks GDPR

by on14 February 2022

All hell about to break lose

The use of Google Analytics has now been found to breach European Union privacy laws in France -- after a similar decision was reached in Austria last month.

The French data protection watchdog, the CNIL, said today that an unnamed local website's use of Google Analytics is non-compliant with the bloc's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) -- breaching Article 44 which covers personal data transfers outside the bloc to so-called third countries which are not considered to have essentially equivalent privacy protections.

The US fails this critical equivalence test on account of having sweeping surveillance laws which do not provide non-US citizens with any way to know whether their data is being acquired, how it's being used or to seek redress for any misuse.

France's CNIL has been investigating one of 101 complaints filed by European privacy advocacy group, noyb, back in August 2020 -- after the bloc's top court invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield agreement on data transfers.

Since then the legality of transatlantic transfers of personal data have been clouded in uncertainty. While it has taken EU regulators some time to act on illegal data transfers -- despite an immediate warning from the European Data Protection Board of no grace period in the wake of the July 2020 CJEU ruling (aka 'Schrems II) -- decisions are now finally starting to flow.

Including another by the European Data Protection Supervisor last month, also involving Google Analytics.

In France, the CNIL has ordered the website which was the target of one of noyb's complaints to comply with the GDPR -- and "if necessary, to stop using this service under the current conditions" -- giving it a deadline of one month to comply.

"Although Google has adopted additional measures to regulate data transfers in the context of the Google Analytics functionality, these are not sufficient to exclude the accessibility of this data for U.S. intelligence services," the CNIL writes in a press release announcing the decision.

"There is therefore a risk for French website users who use this service and whose data is exported."

The CNIL requires that Google Analytics make substantial changes that would ensure only "anonymous statistical data" gets transferred.

The French regulator is also emphatic that under "current conditions" use of Google Analytics is non-compliant -- and may therefore need to cease for the site in question to comply with the GDPR.

The CNIL also suggests use of an alternative analytics tool which does not involve a transfer outside the EU to end the breach. Additionally, it says it's launched an evaluation program to determine which website audience measurement and analysis services may be exempt from the need to obtain user consent (i.e. because they only produce anonymous statistical data which can be exported legally under GDPR).


Last modified on 14 February 2022
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