Google Analytics: Analyzing the Latest Wave of Legal Concerns for Google in the U.S. and the E.U.

We, your The Learned Fangirl founders and editors, write often for a wide variety of different audiences — and will be sharing more of that writing here on a new page of our writing.

In that spirit, we will be sharing the article we wrote two years ago regarding Google Analytics and digital analytics, Google Analytics: Analyzing the Latest Wave of Legal Concerns for Google in the U.S. and the E.U. for Buffalo Intellectual Property Law Journal. Much has changed since then, including an active F.T.C. response to the technological changes. We would very much like to hear from our readers with either a techie or legal background, so that we can properly update you on this issue. – Raizel Liebler and Keidra Chaney

… The next wave of concern regarding Google involves web analytics. Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. The concerns of web analytics use touches on issues of online user privacy, government use of personal information, and information on website user activity. …

Web analytics programs such as Google Analytics will continue to evolve, but we hope this article will serve as a starting point for understanding both this Google product and online data collection. This article will discuss developments regarding Google Analytics and similar products through June 2010.

In this article, we discuss web analytics and Google Analytics (Part II); the privacy and legal issues involved with web analytics (Part III); the approaches taken by various countries to the privacy and technology issues involved, including the United States (especially for government websites), the European Union, and Germany (Part IV).

Finally, we conclude with our predictions for the future of Google Analytics from July 2010 onward (Part V), stating that Google Analytics will continue to raise privacy concerns, especially within Europe, considering those online users do not generally take additional steps to make their online behavior anonymous. In the United States, the potential for cookies that cannot be erased by users will raise the ire of users, government regulators, and legislators and has the potential for creating regulations that will finally directly limit the use of analytics programs, such as Google Analytics.

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