Is Google Analytics illegal in Hungary?

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Published on Nov 10, 2022 and edited on Aug 15, 2023 by Carlo Cilento

According to the latest edition of noyb's GDPRtoday newsletter, the Hungarian data protection authority may soon join the Austrian, French, and Italian DPAs in ruling against the use of Google Analytics.

A disclaimer is due here: the decision has not been published yet, and Noyb is a privacy NGO directly involved in the case. We consider the information reliable because we believe noyb has no plausible interest in spreading inaccurate information about the outcome of one of its cases, but some discretion is advised.

  1. The case
  2. The bigger picture
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The case

The case is one of noyb's 101 complaints. According to the summary available on the gpdrhub (also a noyb project), the decision will closely resemble the ones from the other three DPAs.

A Hungarian weather forecast website used Google Analytics, which requires transfers of personal data between Google Ireland Ltd. and US-based Google LLC. A data subject, represented by noyb, complained that the transfers of his personal data lacked effective safeguards against US surveillance and were therefore unlawful. The Hungarian DPA (NAIH) allegedly upheld the claim and ordered the website to cease the use of Google Analytics.

While the rulings of the Austrian, French and Italian DPAs addressed individual controllers, they set a precedent that practically amounts to a Statewide ban. This is because controllers using Google Analytics are not in a position to implement adequate safeguards (more about this here). There are good reasons to expect this to be the case for Hungary as well, as DPAs are following a coordinated approach in deciding the 101 complaints. So if the information is accurate, the use of Google Analytics may soon be unlawful in Hungary under the GDPR.

As with previous DPA's banning the use of Google Analytis, we've seen some confusion on whether this applies to the current Google Analytics version (universal analytics) or also on the new version (Google Analytics 4). The short answer is that the statements apply to both verions. We've written about this more extensively in this blog.

The bigger picture

US data transfers have been a legal puzzle for companies for a while now. The issues stem from the implications of the 2020 Schrems II case. In a nutshell, the Court found that data transfers to the US expose European data to US surveillance and ruled that such transfers are unlawful unless controllers implement effective safeguards to protect the data. Unfortunately, this is difficult or impossible in many cases.

Shortly after Schrems II, noyb filed 101 complaints against Google Analytics and Facebook Connect. All complaints revolve around data transfers and aim to nudge DPAs towards stricter enforcement of the Schrems II ruling.

DPAs coordinated their approach to the complaints at a European level. As a result, three DPAs (the Austrian DSB, the French CNIL, and the Italian GPDP ruled against the use of Google Analytics so far. The Danish Datatilsynet also followed the example by practically declaring use of GA unlawful in a press release. If the latest news is accurate, the Hungarian NAIH will be the fourth DPA to practically ban Google Analytics from its Members State (or the fifth, counting the Datatilsynet).

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