Is Google Analytics Illegal?

Is the use of Google™ analytics illegal, an offense punishable with an astronomical fine of up to 50,000 Euros (about $74,590)? The German government certainly thinks so! :)

For those who are fluent in German, here is the original article from a German news site:

BTW, nice coincidence that it has to happen just when FTC is also coming up with its "guidelines" on regulating affiliate marketing as well as testimonials used by product vendors…interesting! Only difference is that the fine asked by German authorities ($74,590) is a probably a bit higher than that of FTC ($11,000). Feel free to correct me as I am very weak in Mathematics. ;)

My "Nuttie" View: Matter of fact, web analytics has been there in one form or other ever since the birth of the web. If Google Analytics is illegal, so is Statcounter, webstats, or any other web analytics service/software program because they are NOT doing anything different from what Analytics does.

Tracking visitor activity is a MUST for any business that wishes to thrive for a long time. If you don’t track what your visitors are doing on your site, how would you track your conversions and ROI? Certainly the visitor has the option of blocking the cookies if s/he is so paranoid about their privacy; these days every decent browser offers such an option.

Does not the German Government know all these? Why are they waking up to it all of a sudden? Is it a way to gather publicity for themselves by piggybacking on Google’s popularity? Your thoughts?

Now, since the article has not become considerably long and boring yet, let me tell also add how I found out this news. It so happened that I had to upgrade my Google analyticator plugin, and to my dismay, the plugin author’s site offered download only for version 5.3.1 of the plugin while WordPress was telling me that version 5.3.2 of that plugin is available. So I hit Google for the plugin’s name and downloaded the latest version straight from the plugin’s official repository.

That is how I found the above news! Now I am confident this article can be called long…and erm, boring too, maybe! ;)


  1. Chandan

    I am shocked reading this. Google Analytic is illegel??? It’s strange that German government is punishing Google Analytic.
    For every website it is important to track the performance.

    Thanks Arindam for the informative post.

  2. Renee Benzaim

    I read in the article from Germany that “. . . Google Analytics requires all sites that use it to disclose this on their privacy policies and users can choose to reject the cookies it sends via their web browser. . .” I’ve never heard this before. Is this just for EU websites?

  3. Chris Lockwood

    Does Google Analytics reveal anything that you couldn’t find in your server logs? I doubt it.

    It sounds like the German gov’t is clueless about technology (no surprise), but since I’m in the US I’m not going to worry about this at all.

  4. Peter Jordan

    The German government has vowed to outlaw two of society’s most powerful religions:
    Scientology and Google Analytics.


    Thanks for this newsflash!

    I luv your zine!!

  5. Samantha

    Google gets the Google Slap in Germany-too funny! Nice to know they are not too big to get slapped back once in a while-keeps them humble. There is no competition for the Big G-and they cannot control the world’s internet which they already dominate, not a healthy competitive field.

  6. Forest

    Wow this is quite a bold move! I feel like the German government is just picking on Google as they don’t want them to monopolize the market… Like they already have!

    I guess it just means that German businesses move to another stats tracker for the time being.

  7. Mark E Thurston

    I remember when the net was still a young pup and I was an assistant at a P2P computer help forum. (Which actually started as an MSN group in 1999). Back then there was no Google. But there was tracking. Usually using a clear 1×1 pixel gif in the ad or whatever.

    Since we would get PITAs occasionally, we would use almost any remotely hosted image, clear or otherwise, to track IPs of idiots. Now that it is a forum on it’s own hosting, no need to do that as the server logs keep track of all that anyway, with or without Google’s analytics. (And with or without cookies enabled.)

    I wonder who is subject to the penalty? The user for loading a site with analytics? It certainly cannot be the site owner that uses them unless they happen to be in Germany.


  8. Jake

    This is what happen when you are too big or too well known, someone will try to bring down for no other reason.

  9. Svet

    I believe it. Site and user tracking is just the next progressive step. Google has a knack for collecting and storing any and all data. The power is still in the information. I believe it actually started with gmail. “Never have to delete anything”! I wonder if they feed HomeLandSecurity with the data?

  10. Brian Stone

    I’m just getting around to reading this. I remember seeing the email title though. I was just reading the other post about the FTC. I figured it was time to get all the details on that, so I can get my sites compliant. I was going to comment there but they’ve been closed.

    I’m also going thru emails today trying to unsubscribe from a few, but after reading some good stuff on here, I guess I’ll have to keep this one. B)>

  11. Michael Knorr

    The biggest issue with the internet has always been privacy. There is most definitely a fine line that Google Analytics and any other web analytic programs must follow, but Google analytics is necessary for the company I work for. Our PPC and SEO firm depend upon the information gathered. I honestly believe it will all blow over. Everyone wants to try and get a little bit of deserved money.