The government websites, SNS, PSP and GNR were accused this week of sending data to Google, more specifically, through a tool of the research giant, Google Analytics. The controversy resulted in the suspension of the use of this platform. The American company said they were serious and unfounded accusations.
Now, Google, through its blog, came to explain 6 myths about Google Analytics.
Despite the attempt not to demonize the action of Google's tools, the issue echoed again in the lack of care that public services have in relation to citizen data, Portuguese or not.
In fact, it is even pointed out that the State is handing over to internet giants sensitive citizen data. The research giant is in the line of fire and is now coming to its defense to demystify some issues.
Accusations made to Google are "very serious"
Following the questions and doubts related to Google Analytics, Google has just published a post on its official blog in Portugal about the 6 myths of Google Analytics, aiming to clarify what Google Analytics does and, more importantly, what it doesn't does.
According to the company, today, we hear many questions in Portugal about Google Analytics, a set of basic and everyday web tools that help many website owners of business, public and non-profit entities analyze data about how visitors use their websites , so they can be sure they are providing services that work for the people they are trying to serve.
Google says that the misconception is transmitted that, because advertising is a key part of Google's business, the use of this measurement tool by Portuguese health authorities is, in fact, equivalent to “commercial exploitation”.
Out of concern for those who read or heard about the topic, and out of respect for the mission of Portuguese health services, Google directly addresses these allegations, because they are very serious.
For this reason, the company comes to clarify some myths and directly explain what Google Analytics does, and more importantly, what it doesn't.
6 myths about Google Analytics
Myth #1: Google Analytics is an advertising product.
Fact: No, Google Analytics is a web analytics tool (with free and paid versions) that allows website and application owners to analyze information from their websites, such as website visit times or user interactions with a new page to better understand what is working or not, in order to create better experiences for your users.
Google Analytics does not serve ads. (You can read more about this here. There are other options on the market — you can read more about them on here.)
Myth #2: Google Analytics customers, including government ministries, “deliver” sensitive user data to Google.
Fact: Google Analytics customers (website owners) DO NOT “deliver” their data to Google or anyone else. They retain ownership of the data collected on their websites and Google only stores and processes what is necessary to provide aggregated reports on user behavior on its websites, and also as required to provide and maintain the Analytics service.
Website owners, not Google, control how the data they collect with Analytics on their websites is used.
- Google Analytics only processes the data that customers collect on their websites as required to provide website owners with the Analytics service. Website owners may separately choose to share their Analytics data with Google for some specific purposes, including technical support, benchmarking, and sales support.
- There is only one data sharing setting (the “Google products and services” setting) that allows customers to choose to allow Google to use customer data to improve products/services other than Google Analytics. Even when customers choose to turn it on, Google doesn't use the data to target visitors with their own ads or create ad profiles for those users.
- Sensitive information and personally identifiable information is never allowed in Google Analytics. If website owners want to target ads to their own users in their Google Ads accounts, creating “audience lists” in Google Analytics, they cannot rely on any list of sensitive data.
- The charge that Google creates targeting profiles about itself using data from Google Analytics for its own business use is also false. Customers can use the data they collect about visitors to their websites to create audience lists, and then target those lists to their own ads in their Google Ads accounts. Google does not use Google Analytics customer information about its visitors to serve those visitors with advertisements from Google or other customers.
- In summary: Google does not use customer account data in Google Analytics for its own ad targeting purposes, nor does it create advertising profiles from sensitive data to target ads for you.
Myth #3: Google uses data collected by Google Analytics customers for its own purposes.
Fact: Google has NO rights to or intends to use data collected by website owners through Google Analytics for our own purposes.
We only use Google Analytics data as required to provide and maintain the service, or as instructed by customers.
- Google DOES NOT use the data in website owners' Google Analytics accounts for its own ad targeting or commercial purposes (please see our Ad Data Processing Terms and Google Analytics Terms of Service).
- When website owners collect data via Google Analytics, Google uses the data strictly as instructed by the website owners — for example, to provide reports and analysis on that data — or as needed to maintain and protect the service — for example, detection and preventing misuse, abuse, spam, malware and other harmful activities that put the service or you at risk.
Myth #4: Google Analytics is working without any visibility or control from web users.
Fact: We offer a web browser add-on that disables measurement by Google Analytics on any website a user visits, in line with our longstanding emphasis on giving user control.
In addition to providing strong protections by definition, our goal is to provide accessible, intuitive and useful controls so you can make the right choices for you. You can choose whether and how cookies are used by the websites you visit and block all cookies on some or all websites.
In addition, websites using Analytics must adhere to our policies, which means they must:
- Advise you of Google Analytics implementations and features they use, including warnings about what data they collect through Google Analytics and whether this data can be linked to other data they have about you.
- Obtain your consent or otherwise provide you with the opportunity to refuse implementations and remedies as required by relevant laws in your marketplace.
Myth #5: Google (or anyone else) maintains “profiles” based on data from Google Analytics. This data can “escape” to external entities.
Fact: Google does NOT create Google Analytics user profiles, nor does it use Google Analytics customer data for its own ad targeting purposes.
No Google Analytics cookie (identifier) contains personally identifiable information, and is a unique identifier for your specific visit to that specific property, which means that Google Analytics does not track you across other sites or out of specific context.
- The Google Analytics identifier does not include any identifiable information. The data associated with your visit (eg device type, time you arrived and left the website, where in the world you are logging in) is linked to a random set of numbers and cannot be used to identify you it.
- Any personalized ad based on Google Analytics data is done by the website owner themselves (the Analytics client), not by any third party “ad company”. Google does not share customer Analytics data with any advertising company.
- Website owners are not allowed to collect personally identifiable information about you through Google Analytics. If they inadvertently do so, we provide them with various data deletion tools to immediately remove data from our servers.
- The Google Analytics terms of service prohibit website owners from submitting to Google personally identifiable information or information that Google may use or recognize as personally identifiable information.
Myth #6: The use of online advertising services or advertising cookies by a government ministry means that ads are being displayed based on sensitive information such as health, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc.
Fact: Even when a cookie is used by a website for advertising cookies, it does not mean that it is “tracking” or collecting sensitive information about you.
- It can also be used, for example, to prevent the same public service announcement being shown to you repeatedly, or to help a ministry of health understand if its ads are working as intended, if they are within budget, not being deceived by con artists, etc.
- In any case, Google does not create ad profiles from sensitive interest categories like health, and we have strict guidelines. that prevent advertisers from using this data to target their own ads.
- In short: No health ministry in Portugal or anywhere else has permission from Google to use your sensitive health information to target ads for you.
Interest in these important open web tools is welcome, as is the opportunity to explain ourselves to the citizens of Portugal and beyond.