Google coughs up Analytics changes to appease Europe's data watchdogs

Google coughs up Analytics changes to appease Europe's data watchdogs

Summary: European Google Analytics customers can opt-in to a new agreement designed to improve compliance with European data protection laws.


Amid mounting pressure by EU privacy authorities, Google has published a new data processing agreement for European users of Analytics.

The recently published amendment to Google's Analytics terms of service — an optional agreement aimed at improving customers' compliance with European data protection laws — will be available to customers that use the service in the European Union, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

First reported by Dutch IT site Webwereld, the amended terms follow data protection concessions that Google made to Analytics in Germany in 2011. Facing pressure from Germany's data protection authority, Google agreed to offer German Analytics users a specific contract between that was meant to ensure responsibility for data protection fell on the website owner, rather than Google itself. At the same time, Google also offered German consumers a browser add-on that disabled Analytics data collection, allowing them to opt-out of having their information fed into the service.

Europe's council of data protection authorities, known as the Article 29 Working Party, last October recommended Google extend both safeguards to the rest of Europe, and the amdended terms for Analytics may go some way to address that request. 

ZDNet has asked Google for comment, and will update the article if it is forthcoming. The company said in a statement to Webwereld that the new optional data processing agreement comes in response to demands by Analytics customers for an agreement that clarified how Analytics data was stored, used and secured. 

The new terms come as Google faces mounting pressure from European data protection authority over its recently consolidated privacy policy. France's privacy watchdog, the CNIL (Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés), announced in September that it would begin the process of fining Google for failing to meet a deadline for bringing its updated privacy policy in line with French data protection laws.

Google has faced similar challenges in Europe over its terms of service for Google Apps for Business. Europe's data protection authorities want Google Apps customers to be responsible for data handling processes to ensure they comply with data protection laws. However, some regulators have ruled that Google's standard contract does not enable this.

Last year Google published an amended agreement for European users of Google Apps for Enterprise in addition to "model contract clause" options that were designed to help customers comply with Europe's 1995 Data Protection Directive.

The measures, however, have not satisfied some European data protection authorities, such as in Sweden, where a local council and school have been ordered to stop using Google Apps, despite having opted-in to the new agreements.

Further reading

Topics: Google, Enterprise Software, Privacy, EU

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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  • What will those crazy EU regulators come up with next

    A technically feasible and legally enforceable model for privacy on the web. Don't bet against it. Keeping systems in the conceptual phase of engineering is a proven way to achieve better systems by making the engineers revise requirements and redesign subsystems, over and over, until system is properly balanced.
  • Sites that offer privacy

    Here are some awesome sites that offer privacy: Ravetree, DuckDuckGo, and HushMail. I highly recommend checking some of these out as alternative to Google (and Facebook). You have the freedom to choose!