Data Intelligence, Business Analytics
What about Google Analytics? I know they give you pretty decent statistics about your website.
But what about a goverment organisation in Europe. Should they use Google Analytics since their information might be sensitive and should not be on Google Analytics US-servers.
What's your take on this matter?
I am curious. What information might be sensitive? Individuals are not identifiable unless you use "custom variables" and write some code on your website. You do not see IP ADDRESS. But you can see what domain the visitor is coming from.
"Google Analytics anonymously tracks how visitors interact with a website, including where they came from, what they did on a site, and whether they completed any of the site's conversion goals." from - How does Google Analytics work?
And the Google data center can be in US, Finland, or Belgium. I think the Finland data center is the most interesting. They use sea water to help cool the computers.
All cookies are not the same. If your government organization's website issues cookies that are not related to a login process (eg. a user does not login to your website, they just visit and browse) then using Google Analytics should be not be a problem: regardless of where the data resides. For example, if I go to your organization's website and browse a page, and your website places a cookie on my device (laptop, mobile phone, computer) to track whether I come back again, I don't see that as a big issue.
However, you should be more cautious if your website issues cookies as a result of a user login process (eg. member login area). In this case, information that may be directly linked back to an individual - not just an IP address or a device is being captured. And, yes, I do believe that this might be more sensitive. And this is the issue that Facebook is being challenged on by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner. All this being said, I honestly don't know where data resides when Google Analytics is used.
I might also add one final point, since I am a user, and I've been following recent data privacy events in Europe with regards to Facebook and the Irish Data Protection Commissioner's audit of it. Issues such as this require that the EU, Canada, US, and Asia have standard data privacy protection standards: which is currently not the case. http://tumbleweedmarketinganalytics.com/2011/11/06/analytics-data-s...
I was thinking the same. It's not sensitve information that is stored on Google's servers. It's just hard to explain that to the organization i work for.
But then again, their are some login-area's on the site for some paid services. Your saying that it might be a different issue for those pages?
Well, I can see where login data cookies may be an issue for a government organization, in part because of what is happening with Facebook and the Irish Data Protection Commissioner.
I don't know the size of your organization, but I assume that you either host your own web server or you have a third-party vendor who does.
In either case, there is no reason to use Google Analytics if you are willing to invest in a web analytics package (eg. WebTrends, SiteCatalyst). Or, perhaps, you might be able to use an OLAP cube (eg. IBM-Cognos) to have your website log data rolled-up. In either case, a vendor could help you to set this up with your internal or third-party web host. And, I have heard that there is an open source web analytics package - http://piwik.org/ - that is supposed to be quite popular, but I think using it will present you with the same data privacy issues as Google Analytics (unless its web servers are based in Europe).
Now, this won't be free, but, it would be an investment in the name of data protection and privacy that your organization might opt for. You should research this, but it might eliminate the worry about having your stakeholders' data on remote Google servers. And, so, your login area could issue cookies to website visitors with no privacy concerns in this regard.
Again, I am making assumptions about your organization that you may wish to clarify.
Im currently listing all the wishes of the people that work or might want to work with web analytics in the organization. It is quit a large organisation with a large group of customers.
I actually don't know for sure if the website is hosted on our own private server. The person I can ask that question will be in the office tomorrow.
At the moment package used is Digital Analytix by ComScore. Im looking into the web analytic needs to see if this package is right for the organization, or that it might be an overkill since it has so many options.
Good luck Jos,
Let me know how things go. From a data privacy protection perspective, your first and most important task is to find where the web hosting server is located:
1. Internally or not? I assume it is if your organization is large.
2. If external, in what country (jurisdiction).
Thanks for the help. I will post here how things are going.