The German government has banned Google Analytics, claiming that tracking IP addresses is a violation of privacy. Talks with the search giant, which began in November 2009, collapsed this week without an agreement being reached. Since many other web analytics tools are already banned, this spells a massive blow for website owners and companies attempting to offer SEO. From now on, those who use the site could face large fines.
The Analytics service tracks website traffic, and collects data about page visitors such as their location, how long they spend on the site, and how they came to land on the site. It does this by tracking IP addresses, which the German government believes is a breach of privacy. This is not the first instance of Google's data collecting incurring German action; in October 2010, the Street View mapping service was forced to blur out certain properties.
Google has begun editing IP addresses in Analytics to provide a degree of anonymity, and introduced a browser plugin that allows users to opt out of tracking. However, Germany's data protection commissioner Johannes Caspar said "some ten per cent" of the population uses Safari or Opera, which are not compatible with the plugin.
Google told the Wall Street Journal: "Google Analytics complies with European data protection laws and is used by other European data protection authorities on their own websites."