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Norway takes a stance on Google Analytics, as the data privacy backlash is set to continue

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Norway is the latest in a growing list of European countries to raise concerns about the compliance of Google Analytics with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), calling into question the platform’s long-term viability. The decision by the Norwegian Data Protection Authority (DPA) published earlier this month, while preliminary, is another indication of serious data privacy concerns that Google Analytics users should be aware of.

This issue has been brewing for some time. Last September, Austrian authorities announced a similar decision, joining France, Denmark, Italy, and the Netherlands, all of which have expressed regulatory concerns, as outlined in this Snowplow blog post.

The growing Google Analytics privacy compliance backlash should be top of mind for all current and potential future users of the platform, given that many are actively moving to the latest version of the tool – GA4. This transition to Google’s latest product is not a trivial exercise – the move to an event-streaming model requires re-implementation and a new cognitive effort relating to data structure design and data modeling, which can be costly both in terms of time and often consultant fees.

Brands should carefully consider the risk profile of a commitment to GA4 in Europe alongside the costs of migration and consider whether investing in the technology makes sense in the long-term. Perhaps more importantly, they should think about what alternatives are available should they determine that compliance is paramount to their plans with user analytics.

Chris Lubasch, Chief Data Officer & RVP DACH at Snowplow outlines the issue and offers a solution:

“For those who have been following the evolving Google Analytics GDPR compliance issue, this preliminary decision by Norway’s Data Protection Authority (DPA) is not surprising, given the regulatory direction of travel set in motion by other European authorities. It’s also very possible we’ll see other countries announce similar rulings soon.

Running mission-critical work with Google Analytics, whether in your marketing tech stack or primarily for digital analytics, has become a severe compliance and therefore business risk in many regions. Switching to an alternative solution requires careful consideration from both an organizational and technical perspective. Nobody wants to risk data loss, broken setups, or legal repercussions if you’re suddenly forced to migrate in a hurry.

At Snowplow, we believe valuable customer data should be created and managed first-party – that is wholly owned and in control by yourself, not someone else. Consequently, this belief is baked-in into our platform. With Snowplow, you can stay ahead and protected with advanced compliance functionality and real-time behavioral tracking that respects a user’s privacy wishes. You can also create trustworthy customer data along all channels, and take your insights and growth to the next level. Our advanced Google Analytics migration plans help you to make a fast, smooth, and reliable transition to first-party data ownership, with guided support and consulting if needed. With Google Analytics being third-party hosted and operated, with no transparency in what’s happening behind the scenes, switching away can be both simple and beneficial.”

The Snowplow solution: a privacy-compliant alternative to Google Analytics

Snowplow has over 10 years of experience and product design in the event-streaming space and is pioneering the customer behavioral data category. It helps users to maintain compliance through a private SaaS model, deployed in the customer’s virtual private cloud, along with data residency and localization, depending on the customer’s requirements. The customer is given complete control over their data and the ability to deliver it directly to their warehouse, lakehouse or data lake of their choice, with SLA guarantees.

Snowplow data is first-party data and isn’t affected or limited by sunsetting third-party cookies. The platform creates a single, unified event stream governed by a centralized schema and provides full data lineage – making it easier to conduct full compliance audits and risk assessments.

The data created with Snowplow never leaves your own, first-party cloud environment, enabling you to control exactly what data you create, how you process it and where you process it.

Managing customer data is made easier with Snowplow’s built-in privacy compliance features – from GDPR consent plugins and GDPR contexts to pseudonymization. Privacy controls like PII pseudonymization record a basis for capture with each event so that companies have complete control over their customers’ right to privacy while understanding their behavior.

As the leader in data creation, Snowplow helps organizations such as AutoTrader, The Globe and Mail’s Sophi, Strava, Gousto and DPG Media, amongst others collect rich and contextual behavioral data at scale. Thanks to its granularity and explainability, behavioral data is AI-ready by default, making it the richest fuel for the data applications that drive businesses forward – whether for advanced analytics, AI/ML predictive intelligence, or building a composable Customer Data Platform (CDP).

By creating their own behavioral customer data, data teams can overcome the limitations of traditional packaged options and run the data applications that drive their business forward from within their data warehouse, lake or lakehouse.

Read more about powering advanced analytics applications.

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John Rueter
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