Google Analytics Banned In Austria
Ideally, I wanted my first blog of 2022 to be something positive and uplifting, but unfortunately, this news is now filtering through, and it's too important not to blog and send it out in a newsletter. So as I haven't prepared any other blogs yet, this one gets the "first post of 2022" billing :-(
Right about now, you are thinking, "what is Google Analytics" and as I'm not based in Austria, why does this affect me? I'll break the answer down into those two questions, and if you've read this far, I urge you to read on, as no matter where you are, this can affect you.
What Is Google Analytics?
In a nutshell, GA (Google Analytics) is a little bit of software that gets embedded into the computers and devices of anyone landing on a web page that is GA enabled. This software lets Google track the user, seeing other web pages they land on and helps Google deliver targeted adverts. It also allows website owners to track traffic (users) on their websites.
You know if you look at a pair of shoes on a website, then you constantly see adverts for those very shoes on loads of other websites you visit? That's done using the little software apps, called Cookies, that GA stores on your device.
A few years back, the EU launched some new privacy regs called the GDPR. Among other things, these were designed to stop things like tracking users around the web. At the time, there was, and still is, a lot of discussion about whether GA contravened these new regs. The jury is (was) out on it. Some said that while they did track people, they did it anonymously, so they were OK. Others said that because of the way the software tracked people, they could (in theory) be used to pinpoint individuals. So breaking the GDPR rules.
Over the years, this has trundled on with lots of talk with no real action until now. Austria has just ruled that GA does contravene GDPR and so is illegal and that any site using them must stop. Now. Or face a fine of up to €20m or 4% of turnover.
Does your site use GA?
The only person who can answer that for sure is the person who built your site, your website developer, as they would have had to add some code supplied by Google to your site.
I'm Not In Austria, So This Doesn't Affect Me
And here is the thing. Just because you are not in Austria, that doesn't mean someone in Austria can't access your site. Unless you have specifically blocked all users in that country, they will be able to access your site. And if your site is using GA, you are breaking the law.
Now, as with all these things, you need to weigh up the likelihood of the Austrian authorities coming after you if you are based in the Uk or Ireland. Maybe they will, perhaps they won't. But they are going after Austrian based businesses using GA, so it's not impossible to imagine them sooner or later spreading their net a bit further.
What Do I Do Next?
That's a tough one. The safe answer is to block people in Austria from accessing your site (easy to do, speak to your website developer). Or, remove GA if it's on your site. Or, do nothing and wait and see how this one plays out. It's your call.
As for Caffeine Injection clients, unlike many (most?) website makers, we don't add GA code to your site by default. We've long since had a dislike of it. Instead, we offer all our clients a free Matamo Analytics account (typically costing about €20 a month).
If you are one of my clients and have requested GA to be added to your site, you need to decide what to do next. If you are someone else's client, you also need to make that decision and perhaps get them to sign you up for Matomo or another similar service.
Or, if you feel it's time for a new website and want to ensure you are not breaking any laws, give me a shout and let's see if we can work together.