Digital Marketing Regulation: Google Analyltics May Be Illegal in Germany

First They Came for the German Marketers
Continuing my theme that regulation should be a much higher concern to digital marketers and their professional associations, I submit that one core digital marketing tool may already be illegal in the world’s third largest economy.

Zeit Online reported today that numerous German privacy officials are convinced that sites using Google Analytics illegally violate visitors’ privacy. (By the way, I use Google Analytics on this site, and I see nothing of a personal nature about your visit here.)

The article, which Google provides a translation of here, says that 1.8 million German sites use Google Analytics, which represents 13% of all sites with the “.de” domain. It quotes a German lawyer who says penalties could amount up to €50,000 (about $75,000) for each site.

Here’s why I believe regulation of digital marketing is close at hand:

It’s time to for marketers to generate a policy discussion with our representatives, and perhaps do some lobbying of our own.

After all, the Internet is not a publicly owned system, as public airwaves are. It is my server and your PC connected using networks we privately pay for. We adhere to protocols established through voluntary private groups. If our conduct is legal, then regulation for even the noblest of reasons risks intrusiveness.

Which is More Benign: the US Government or Google?
Which built a secret spy capability to monitor domestic phone traffic? Which  proposed that bloggers register with the Federal Election Commission? Which compels your support through threats of fine and imprisonment?  And which provides services many services for free?

You Tell Me
Do you see regulation as a risk?  And is Google still pretty benign, or am I a digital dupe? Please let me know what do you think.

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