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Germany to Ban Google Analytics?

November 26, 2009 (CAP Newswire) — Google is the golden child in the U.S. online business world — an example of a relatively new company that started as a modest business plan and evolved into a globally dominant behemoth.

In spite of that (or maybe because of it), the company is facing more and more scrutiny overseas — particularly in Europe. Recently, the European Union’s legal arm hinted that it might make big changes to the way Google AdWords is administered there (read about that here). Now, Germany, the biggest economy in the EU, may be taking its skepticism of the American company one step further.

“Several federal and regional government officials in Germany are trying to put a ban on Google Analytics,” writes Robin Wauters at the Washington Post’s tech blog. “ … [M]ultiple federal and state government officials charged with guarding over national data protection are convinced that Google Analytics is against the law in Germany and are mulling imposing fines on companies who use the service to gather detailed stats based on their website visitors' usage patterns without the explicit consent of those visitors.” (Read it here.)

"An approximate 13 percent of German website publishers (meaning those with sites that have .de as their TLD) currently use Google Analytics, including several websites of leading media organizations, political parties and pharmaceutical companies," Wauters writes elsewhere on TechCrunch Europe. (Read that article here.)

Google Analytics is almost universally praised within the online business world, as a (free!) source for detailed information on a site’s search statistics and visitor behavior. Although this isn’t the first time European governments have viewed Google with mistrust, and it isn’t the first time that Internet privacy advocates have expressed doubts about the statistical machinery used by Google (and other companies), this news is nonetheless a bit surprising in its scope.

Part of the reasoning may be that Germany doesn’t want info on its citizens residing on some far-away server in the United States. There may also be antagonism over breaches between U.S. and EU trade agreements underlying this story. The EU has repeatedly expressed its displeasure over the U.S. gambling ban, which essentially outlaws many European countries considered perfectly legal on that continent.

Stay tuned to CAP News to see what develops with this story.