Survey: According to research done by DataEthics.eu, the use of Google Analytics in Denmark among public websites is minimal, whereas tax-financed institutions in the educational sector, NGO’s and the news media are heavy users of Google Analytics. This is a lucky situation for the public websites, as GA will most likely be declared illegal all over Europe as it has been declared illegal by the Austrian Data Protection Agency.
Public websites in Denmark have scaled down massively on the use of Google Analytics (GA) over the past few years. Only 18% of websites under the state are hosting Google Analytics, a cookie that tracks users. Among municipalities it is only 4%.
This is positive news, as both the state and municipalities over the years have been heavily criticised for taking active part in the surveillance economy by sharing data with the ad tech industry, including big tech. Now, it seems, they’ve acted upon that criticism and turned away from Google Analytics.
In the beginning of the 2010’s the Danish Business Authority travelled around the country with representatives from Google (now Alphabet) to inform both public and private companies about the web statistics tool from Google, which was very easy to use and ‘free’ – although the usage is paid with data rather than traditional payment methods. Today, just a decade later, many big companies have removed GA and so have public websites to be able to control their own data, not to pay with their data and not to share it with the many companies in the surveillance economy. There are many paid alternatives to GA which are all efficient and easy to use.
However, there are still some state-owned websites using Google Analytics and thus sharing the Danes’ personal data with big tech. Those who are dealing with sensitive topics are; The Ministry of Justice, The Danish Crime Prevention Council, The Danish Health Data Authority, The National Council for Children and The National Board of Social Services. This might change in the future.
The decreasing use of GA in the Danish state and municipality-run websites sits perfectly with a new decision from the Austrian Data Protection Agency, that states that the use of Google Analytics is illegal. Similar decisions are expected in other EU member states, as national regulators have cooperated on these cases in an EDPB task force. The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) is an independent European body, which contributes to the consistent application of data protection rules throughout the European Union.
NGO’s, News Media and Education Are Up For Trouble
While state and municipalities have chosen the ethical alley, a surprisingly high number of organisations funded by tax money have not.
According to the survey, 71% of the publicly funded educational sector in Denmark use Google Analytics. 58% of news media, who are heavily subsidiced by the state, and 86% of NGO’s who are even more subsidised by the state are using Google Analytics.
If the usage of Google Analytics is deemed illegal across Europe, these organisations will have to find new tools that comply with the GDPR. Even if it does not become illegal in Denmark, it runs against data ethics quests for individual data control, transparency and accountability if they participate in data sharing without their users understanding what is going on.
Research: Daniel Ingemann
Update, March 1st 2022: The Ministry of Justice removes Google Analytics (article in Danish)
Boks: How We Did We It:
Load a webpage in the Chrome browser. Accept all cookies.
Right-click the page, and click Inspect.
Click Network and write Google in the search box.
Click Ctrl+R to refresh and make sure alle cookies are uploaded
You see a large amount of code. Can you find analytics.js?