Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-2010

Abstract

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. While Google Analytics is not the sole web analytics product on the market, it is widely used by corporate, non-profit, and government organizations. The product has been reported to have a 59% market share among web analytics vendors in a 2008 study.

Web analytics technology has also recently become the focus of government review in both the U.S. and the E.U. 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 discusses developments regarding Google Analytics and similar products through June 2010.

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

We conclude by stating that Google Analytics will continue to raise privacy concerns, especially within Europe, considering 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.