Is Google Analytics illegal in Lithuania?
- Andrii Romasiun
European Center for Digital Rights has filed complaints against dozens of companies across the EU for using Google Analytics because it doesn't comply with the GDPR. Three of these companies are located in Lithuania.
These complaints are still in progress, however the Swedish court has already ruled a fine of 1,000,000 EUR against Tele2 and 30,000 EUR against CDON for using Google Analytics on their websites. Other EU countries (such as Austria and France) have made similar decisions to declare that Google Analytics violates the GDPR. This means that companies using Google Analytics can be fined.
- Why are EU countries making Google Analytics illegal?
- Does the GDPR affect Lithuania?
- GDPR: What's all the fuss about?
Why are EU countries making Google Analytics illegal?In many EEA countries, including France, Finland, Denmark, Italy, Austria, the Netherlands and Norway, Google Analytics has been declared illegal. Courts in EU countries are taking a similar approach to the GDPR, so other countries may soon follow.
Courts declare Google Analytics illegal because of the CLOUD Act which allows U.S. federal law enforcement agencies to compel U.S.-based companies to provide requested data, regardless of whether the data is stored in the U.S. or on foreign soil, such as in the EU.
The other issue with Google Analytics is the transfer of personal data outside the European Union. The GDPR allows the transfer of personal data outside of the EU as long as the countries in question offer an adequate level of data protection, however the United States is not included in that list.
Does the GDPR affect Lithuania?The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Economic Area (EEA) applies to all 27 EU member countries, including Lithuania, and to any company operating in or targeting the Lithuanian market. If you use Google Analytics and your websites target audience are Lithuanians - you may be in breach of the GDPR!
However, there are privacy-friendly alternatives to Google Analytics. Swetrix enables the collection of important metrics without the need for gathering any personal data. This ensures GDPR compliance, as the GDPR does not apply to the data processed.
GDPR: What's all the fuss about?The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on 25 May 2018 and now applies to almost every business in the EU. It builds on the existing Data Protection Act of 1996 and places greater emphasis on the handling of personal data. All businesses and organisations must now ensure that personal data is stored securely and protected.
The recent rulings on the legality of using Google Analytics in the EU are part of a broader issue concerning data transfers between the European Economic Area and the United States. The GDPR stipulates that personal data of European residents can only be transferred to countries with adequate data protection levels. The problem is that the US legal system allows the collection of personal data and surveillance (such as the CLOUD Act or FISA) on foreign citizens.
The EU and the US previously had two data transfer frameworks, Safe Harbor and Privacy Shield, which facilitated GDPR-compliant data transfers. However, in 2015 and 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) declared EU-US data transfers illegal. This retroactive stance means that virtually all data transfers between the European Union and the United States from 2000 to 2023 were unauthorised.
The newly proposed "Trans-Atlantic Data Privacy Framework" appears to be a rehash of previous failed agreements. Despite claims of progress, little has changed in US law or the EU's approach, particularly regarding FISA 702 surveillance and the protection of non-US individuals' rights. The EU-US negotiations resulted in a one-page agreement in principle that does not address key privacy concerns. Although the agreement includes some cosmetic changes and the renaming of oversight bodies, it lacks meaningful reform. This leaves data transfers and privacy rights in a precarious state. Legal challenges to this framework are expected, and its future remains uncertain as it heads back to the Court of Justice.
Following the CJEU judgement, the majority of EU companies continued their regular operations with US-based service providers. Nyob filed complaints in all 30 EU and EEA member states against 101 European companies which continued using Google Analytics or Facebook Connect services. Some of these complaints led to a decision against the use of Google Analytics in several EU countries like France and Italy, which means that other countries' Personal Data Protection Agencies likely rule against Google Analytics in a similar manner.
Given these developments, it is crucial to explore alternative options to Google Analytics that place a higher emphasis on user privacy and GDPR compliance. Fortunately, such alternatives do exist and Swetrix is one of them.
We are a cookie-less service that allows you to get all the analytics insights you need without collecting personal information or tracking individual users. Here's a live demo page so you can see for yourself.
In contrast to the tech giants, we offer our services at an affordable price instead of providing them for free and then excessively monetising user data. We offer a 14 day free trial (no need to add your payment details) and pricing starts at just $5 / month. Feel free to give us a try.