Google AnalyticsGoogle Tag ManagerData PrivacyMeasurementWeb TrackingServer-Side TrackingCookieless MarketingThird-Party Cookies
Radboud University Nijmegen
The growing utilization of the data tracking tools, such as Google Analytics, has spurred concerns about user privacy and data protection. Legal authorities have declared the use of such tools illegal in certain jurisdictions and issued recommended measures for compliant usage. However, adhering to these measures could restrict the effectiveness of these tools, leading to a difficult task for developers who need to balance Google Analytics’ utility with privacy protection. It is essential to understand how developers and analytics specialists navigate these challenges to prepare for potential legal changes. The current literature lacks a comprehensive understanding of the matter; this research aims to identify methods to reconcile utility and privacy legality in an ambiguous legal environment, offering insights that could influence future regulations and decision-making in organizations using Google Analytics. By deriving best practices from the literature and confirming them via semi structured interviews with eight analytics specialists, this study explores the practicality and the extent of implementation in this intersection of privacy and utility. The findings highlight that recommended practices such as user consent, IP anonymization, and data minimization are still prevalent. At the same time, methods involving proxy servers and rigorous pseudonymization of referrers and URL parameters are less widespread due to constraints such as cost, technical complexity, and operational necessities. Nonetheless, emerging practices like the adoption of Google Analytics 4 and server-side tracking could potentially bridge this divide. Despite these advances, formulating a one-size-fits-all solution remains an unsolved challenge, underscoring the need for a concerted effort among Google, legal entities, and developers to formulate clearer guidelines and ensure the long-term viability of data privacy measures.
Tu Ngoc Huy