Google Analytics has been banned in several European countries, with Italy being the latest.
Since December 2021, four European countries have banned Google Analytics. It started with Austria declaring the service illegal in December 2021. France and Holland quickly followed months later in February 2022. Now Italy has joined the fray.
The Italian data protection authority found that a local web publisher’s use of Google Analytics violated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules.
To understand why these countries are banning Google Analytics, it’s important to understand what kind of data it collects. Every time you visit a website, any website, Google Analytics notes the time and date of your visit, the browser you use, your IP address, screen resolution, operating system, and language selection, among other items.
Most websites use this data to track what kind of content readers like and curate content around these preferences.
Now all this data Google Analytics collects is stored in the cloud, but not in storage centres in different countries. Instead, Google stores the data in data centres, most of which are scattered across the US.
This is where the problem comes in. Websites across the world—in different countries—who use Google Analytics basically have the data of their users/customers in the US, and that data is reportedly unprotected.
While the US itself has surveillance laws that prevent the US government from accessing the data of Americans, those laws don’t protect people living outside the US.
And many European countries worry that this means that US officials can access their citizens’ data and use it for nefarious purposes similar to how Facebook allowed Cambridge-Analytica to harvest user data for Trump’s political campaign in 2016.
It would be recalled that recent US accused China of using TikTok to mine the data of US citizens for the use of the Chinese government. That is similar to the concerns being raised about Google Analytics.
Google Analytics isn’t the only one facing some pushback in Europe. In fact, since 2020 over 5,000 US-based tech companies have been struggling after the European Court struck down Privacy Shield, an agreement that allows US-based companies to transfer user data from Europe to data centres in the US. Now, many are faced with banishment or building expensive data centres in Europe.
Europe has always championed policies in the interest of its citizens as it relates to the operation of big tech, particularly from America. Not long ago, Europe ordered Apple to convert its chargers to type C USB, which can be used to charge Android devices as well.
Meanwhile, African regulators as sitting aloof and only focusing on how to get more money from poor citizens and even smaller industry players without making any demands on big tech in the interest of the citizens.
Not long ago, Nigeria ordered all social media giants across the world to open local offices in Nigeria so that they can be properly regulated.
It is about time Africa went on the back of AfCFTA and and made some demands from big tech which are relevant to the citizens. The type C USB charger and protection of our data from Google Analytics is important for Africa.