On August 17, 2020, The Italian Supervisory Authority (SA) banned the use of Google Analytics, ruling that it was non-compliant with EU data protection rules. They banned the popular analytics tool, finding that the protections Google applied were not sufficient to address the risk, and the use of Google Analytics violates the bloc’s data protection rules over the data export issue.
Compounding the trouble, an e-Commerce website using Google Analytics without the safeguards set out in the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) violates data protection law putting any e-Commerce business at a major risk.
“Now more than ever, small and mid-size companies need to own their data,” explains Mikel Lindsaar, CEO of StoreConnect, a startup that helps small- to mid-size e-Commerce businesses in the US so they can own their own data, be GDPR compliant and compete globally with the Goliath e-Commerce companies … in essence leveling the playing field. “Everything they collect from their customers should end up in their own store and database, making them compliant with GDPR,” Lindsaar added.
France and Austria have also deemed the tool illegal, and Denmark is the latest EU country to do so. Technically, the Schrems II case in 2020 made data transfers between Europe and the U.S. illegal. However, that case found the existing agreement, the Privacy Shield, between the U.S. and the EU was not compatible because the American law allows its government to requisition client data from companies on national security grounds, something which is prohibited under GDPR.
Businesses using Google Analytics must therefore have a technical understanding of their data flows, including where the data is going, who is receiving the data, and how the data is protected. Cookies are also used to track data, but they are not the only means of collecting and transferring data. Google Analytics and similar services can receive personal data through other means. For instance, a website or app could still send personal data to Google via HTTP parameters or browser/device fingerprinting, among other means, to track users across web properties. That is why it’s essential a technical analysis is conducted to learn which of these types of services are used by a website or app and what mitigations are needed.
Effect on the e-Commerce Industry
Millions of European businesses are poised to be affected by the banning of Google Analytics, resulting in several possible scenarios. The first is a total ban of Google Analytics in Europe, leaving American companies unable to operate in the EU. Another possibility is United States-based tech companies switch to storing and consolidating data in Europe to ensure they’re compliant with GDPR. But that goes against the CLOUD Act that requires American service providers to be able to provide U.S. authorities with any domestic or international data when asked, that is stored in their servers. A third option is for EU businesses to find an alternative to Google Analytics, while a final possibility is enforcement of the Innovation and Choice Online Act that targets big tech companies for potential antitrust and consumer choice violations.
Other Analytics Options
While EU authorities and the U.S. work to reach a data transfer agreement, there are other analytics options available beyond Google’s. A solution like StoreConnect allows customer data to be maintained within a business’ own systems and not be exported at all. This lets small to mid-size companies continue to gain useful data from “internal” analytics while remaining GDPR compliant.
“With StoreConnect, small and mid-size companies CAN own their data,” continues Lindsaar. “Equally important, businesses using StoreConnect still have the information that enables them to understand what their customers are doing in their store, while being CDPR compliant.”
StoreConnect provides a Salesforce-native eCommerce solution 3.0 for small-to-medium-sized businesses that enables these companies to enter the global eCommerce marketplace and scale to grow at any pace imaginable. “For small- to medium-sized businesses, Time is Money and StoreConnect is Time. Well Spent,” says Lindsaar. “By adopting StoreConnect, retailers already using Salesforce simply add POS, eCommerce, website, web form and digital engagement features to the customer service and management, order and inventory, and marketing capabilities of Salesforce.”
StoreConnect is a subscription and usage-based eCommerce, Point of Sale, and Content Management System built on and within Salesforce, which allows users to integrate Marketing, Sales, and Support systems into one platform. StoreConnect targets Small to Medium Businesses who want to provide the same “full service” customer experience that is being provided by eCommerce leaders, but at a fraction of the cost.