Will Google Analytics be banned in Europe soon?

Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced in May 2018, more and more rules have been added regarding the privacy of website visitors in the EU. First, a cookie notification became mandatory, with some websites not offering the option to refuse the placement of cookies. Or they simply denied access to the website if you clicked ‘no’. Now, a visitor should be able to decline these cookies and gain access to the website. In addition, a visitor must have the option to separately enable or disable non-essential cookies, such as analytical cookies and tracking cookies.

What’s going on with Google Analytics?

At the beginning of this year, something special happened. The Dutch Data Protection Authority (AP) once posted a guide (Dutch) to how to set up Google Analytics in a privacy-friendly way. On January 13, 2022, a warning suddenly appeared in this document: “Note: the use of Google Analytics may soon not be allowed.”

The warning came after the Austrian privacy supervisory authority concluded that Google Analytics did not comply with the GDPR, because Google sent cookie data to the US unnecessarily. The AP is currently investigating this and therefore have already placed a warning in advance, which is unusual because this is not often done during an ongoing investigation.

What are alternatives to Google Analytics?

Matomo is a well-known open source solution where you become the owner of your data. You can host Matomo yourself or opt for a cloud solution. They have a demo environment in which you can view the reports and functions.

An emerging tool is Piwik PRO Analytics Suite, which is already being used by several large organizations. You can also choose to host the software yourself or use it in a secure cloud environment. They offer a free plan and promise to stay free forever and have custom options for larger companies.

A slimmed down alternative is Simple Analytics. Their servers are located in the Netherlands,  and their website is very transparent in why they have chosen the Netherlands specifically.

Should we all switch now?

If you want to guarantee the privacy of your visitors or if you weren’t a fan of Google Analytics, now is the best time to switch. But chances are that you (or your team) have been working with Google Analytics for a long time or are not eager to switch tools.

My personal view is that waiting can’t hurt. No definitive statements have yet been made regarding a ban on Google Analytics, and it is also the largest player on the market. That tells me the following things:

  • That the privacy supervisory authority are going to force Google to adjust their way of processing data.
  • That Google then has a big problem because they don’t want to lose the EU data and users.
  • That there is, in addition, a chance that Google will not give in and the privacy supervisory authority regulators will ban Google Analytics, but that companies will have enough time to switch to an alternative. In that case, these alternatives will gain a significant number of new customers, possibly resulting in growth problems.

Do you still need to take steps to make your website data and marketing data GDPR-proof? Please contact me, I will be happy to help you.

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