When looking at the amount of control that government exercises over businesses, the U.S. Government is comparatively lenient when contrasted with European countries. This has made visible impact on technology in these different sections of the globe, with browser functioning, search site popularity, and even available services changing based on the laws of the region. Most recently, German officials have been fighting against the Google Analytics tool.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, German officials have stopped talking with Google about the possibility of allowing the service. The concerns arise over the fact that analytics uses information from the IP address of the user. Now, the IP address itself isn’t actually released to the webmaster, but that doesn’t make this concern illegitimate. As one personal anecdote, a girl I was dating once asked me to try to web stalk her as a way of testing how well she’s hidden her private data online. Using Google Analytics, I was able to find the address of her work and her approximate work hours — a chunk of private information that was surprising and a little frightening for both of us to find as available.
The current ruling in Germany is that users must stop accessing any Google analytics data or installing it on their site; those who don’t comply will face stiff legal penalties and fines. Meanwhile, Google representatives claim that they are still working hard to address the concerns of the German government. Google has already made IP addresses only partially visible to increase privacy, and has developed opt-out options for the top three browsers. However, German officials have stated that they’ve broken off negotiations with the search engine giant because “what Google has presented isn’t sufficient.”
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