The world’s leading tech companies continue to run into compliance with the European Union strict General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) even after 4 years since its entry into force. This week, privacy advocates in Austria advanced legal proceedings against websites that use Google Analytics, the most widely used set of computer tools for tracking the activities of millions of website users.
In a case brought before the Austrian Data Protection Authority, it is mentioned that the operators of a health-focused website violated various provisions set out in the GDPR, transferring the personal data of their users to Google using the Analytics tool. European law states that it is illegal for a company to send personal information to companies in the U.S. if they cannot guarantee that this data will not be available to American intelligence agencies.
This case was brought as part of an initiative by activist Max Schrems and None of your Business (NOYB), his privacy advocacy group. This was a multinational initiative, so it is anticipated that more countries will make similar decisions in the near future; if so, websites operating in the European Union may stop using Google Analytics and other U.S.-based cloud services.
This week, the activist stated: “We have filed 101 complaints in basically every member state of the European Union. We formed a working group, so we expect the other data protection authorities to now come up with similar decisions, creating a domino effect.”
It is worth mentioning that the resolution was not entirely favorable to privacy advocates. While the Austrian authority ruled against the website that sent the data to the US, the complaint against Google was also dismissed, as the GDPR breach was committed by the company exporting the data.
In addition to stopping using Google’s cloud services, European companies also expect authorities in the U.S. to pass laws to prevent foreigners’ data from being analyzed by local intelligence agencies, though there is no chance of this happening anytime soon.
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