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Tech Advisor to Norway: Stop Using Google Analytics

By Luise Søe and Pernille Tranberg

Is it fair that public websites in Norway participate in letting companies like Google and Facebook track their citizens and collect data about them?

Such was the question by Tore Tennøe, head of Teknologirådet in Norway, who advises the government in how to deal with tech at a conference held by the Norwegian Data Protection Agency: Is the Public Sector Too Dependent on Big Tech?

Bjørn Tennøe’s answer was a clear no.

“The public sector has a special responsibility towards their citizens,” he said. “It is most likely illegal. The public sector can change this with laws and by changing their public procurement.”

Teknologirådet in Norway did research a lot of public websites using the tools Blacklight Realtime, developed by The MarkUp. It checked 60 municipalities, 100+ companies, Stortinget and others.

Users are tracked on 80% of all the websites. Mostly by Google. 79% use Google Analytics. That is a monopoly situation. It is free but we pay with data,” he said.

Tennøe was pretty chocked that for example Sivilombudet, who is trying to create fairness in the society, LDO who works against discrimination and Oslo Municipality are all an active part of the surveillance economy by using trackers.

And he explained why the use of GA is not only unethical but illegal according to the Austrian DPA. It sends data to the US, which is not considered a safe third-country. Data cannot be anonymised as Google has so many personal data on Norwegians.

He advised the public sector websites to find alternatives to GA, to use data minimalisation and
“Pay with money, not data. The public sector should NOT participate in the surveillance economy,” he said.

Also read our White Paper On Data and AI Ethics in Public Procurement
You can see the conference here