Our girl Alex explains some differences in the privacy laws all web analytic professionals need to know about when moving into the German Market.
Web analytics is a broad term referring to the study of the impact of a website on its users. Ecommerce often use Web analytics software to quantify such details as how many people visited their site, how many of those visitors were unique visitors, how they came to the site (i.e. if they followed a link to get to the site or came there directly), what keywords they searched with on the site's search engine, the duration of time they stayed on a given page or on the entire site, what links they clicked on and when they left the site.
Web analytic software can also be used to monitor whether or not a site's pages are working properly. With this information, website administrators can conclude which areas of the site are popular and which areas of the site do not get traffic. Web analytics provides these site administrators and publishers with data that can be used to streamline a website to create a better user experience.
Therefore, with this in mind, the present business world is increasingly reliant on data for marketing, performance, and strategy development. As a result, the global web analytics market is growing like never before. Web analytics enables companies and organisations to quantify and optimise their online marketing campaigns. The key advantage of such a service is an enhanced understanding of online consumer behaviour. Thus, these services are in abundant global demand.
Among the strictest data privacy regulations in the world are those of the European Union (EU). So much that each EU member state is required to have its own comprehensive privacy laws protecting individual rights against information collection and processing by the government and private entities.
Germany has one of the strongest policies. It is well known in the Web Analytics community for having very stringent privacy and data protection regulations, to the extent that some tools are even stated as “not legal”.
Germany’s Federal Data Protection Act is known as Bundesdatenschutzgesetz or BDSG, and the laws were reformed significantly in 2009 to cover a range of data protection-related issues.
The key principles of the 2009 amendments state:
- Organisations cannot collect any personally identifiable information without express permission from an individual (this includes obvious things like name and date of birth, as well as less obvious things like phone number, address, and computer IP address).
- The permission that an individual grants must specify how, where, how long, and for what purposes the data may be used.
- The individual can revoke the permission at any time.
- Organisations must have policies, procedures, and controls in place to protect all data types and categories that fall under the BDSG umbrella.
The data privacy discussion has arisen due to the fact that within the EU an IP (internet protocol address) is treated as PII (personal identifiable information) “by default”. In addition to the Federal Data Protection Act, components of the German criminal code regulate personal data protection, particularly for telecommunications, healthcare, and insurance companies. And furthermore, all of the 16 German federal states (Bundestadt) have their own specific data protection laws concerning to the same areas.
So what are the business implications? Web Analytics in Germany in short is not as mature as in the UK or the US. Yet despite these seeming hindrances, local players still appear to be adapting successfully and helping clients navigate the stricter guidelines.
Matthias Bettag, German country Manager of the Web Analytics Association (WAA) interviewed a number of leading experts on the current state of the German market in an article recently on online-behaviour.com (a website dedicated to web analytics). Commenting on the legal challenges, Christian Sauer, CEO of Webtrekk, notes, “We have dealt with this issue and ensured that our solutions do not cause any problems.” According to Ralf Haberich, general manager of comScore Europe, reliable web analytics providers prevent the compromise of online security. Timo von Focht of AT Internet provides wise counsel for those with further reservations: “WA has a future. Avoiding WA would mean turning off the Internet.”
Over the last month at Xcede Solutions I have made the transition from the UK Analytics market to the German Web Analytics market. From extensive research and talking with key players in the UK and German markets, it is clear that Germany is approximately 5 years behind that of the UK. However, it is also clear that there is a huge acceleration in leading companies fully embracing the power of web analytics, and the realisation of the importance and potential contribution it can add to the bottom line.
For more information contact Alex on 0203 301 9919 or +4940306988505 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Search all our vacancies.