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Germany Threatens to Fine Companies That Use Google Analytics

Danny Goodwin
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Concluding that Google hasn't adequately complied with their demands, German data protection officials are warning that web companies in the country could face a "steep fine" if they use Google Analytics.

The big issue? Google collects the full IP addresses of users -- even those who request anonymity -- and sends the information to Google servers in the U.S. for processing. Some in Germany, which has extremely strict privacy laws, believe the practice illegal because it violates an individual's privacy -- however, Google isn't liable under existing laws.

"We must clearly say: What Google offers is not enough," Johannes Caspar, commissioner for data protection in Hamburg where Google Germany is based, was quoted as saying in a local paper earlier this week.

Germany is also refusing to further negotiate with Google, breaking off talks that began in November 2009. Caspar said data from Safari and Opera browsers can't be properly protected by a previously announced browser add-on, which exposes 10 percent of Internet users in the country (Google also announced that addresses are made anonymous by using only a portion of the IP addresses).

Google Germany's data protection official Per Meyerdierks is apparently unaware talks had broken down, the Local also reported.

"Google Analytics complies with European data protection laws and is used by other European data protection authorities on their own websites," a Google spokesman said in a statement in The Wall Street Journal.

Google has clashed in recent months with Germany over Street View imagery, with 244,000 Germans opting out before it launched .


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