What Data Does Google Analytics Prohibit Collecting?

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In the modern world, businesses in every sector collect data. Since data is a valuable resource, companies use it for targeted marketing. And Google Analytics is a powerful tool that you can use to collect data about your website visitors to understand how they behave.

However, despite this, Google Analytics has some data collection limitations. You can’t use this web analytics platform to collect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) because it’s considered sensitive data. Federal regulators and authorities have imposed these rules to maintain privacy. So, in this article, we will take a closer look at what data does Google Analytics prohibit collecting.

What is Considered as Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?

If you regularly use Google Analytics to get data for your marketing efforts, here are the types of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) that the tool prohibits from collecting:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Username
  • Home address
  • Driver’s license number
  • ID or passport number
  • Social security number
  • Date of birth
  • Fine-grained location data
  • Race
  • Credit or debit card number

However, certain personalized data are exceptions to Google Analytics PII. For instance, IP addresses are part of Google’s exclusions; therefore, they can collect data such as device type and website usage via user IDs and IP addresses without breaking any law. PII only refers to data that could be used to identify individual users on your website.

What Will Happen if You Accidentally Collect PII Information?

If you collect Personally Identifiable Information from your website visitors, you violate Google’s Terms of Service and break federal law. As a matter of fact, Europe introduced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, which outlines the laws that Google Analytics should follow when collecting user data. 

If these laws are broken, then two things could happen:

  • Google could disable your analytics account; therefore, you won’t be able to access this tool to get insights about your website.
  • You might also get private compensation claims from users if their information ends up with the wrong person. The regulations set by GDPR support this. 

To avoid getting into these problems, ensure that you check all the details before you start using Google Analytics.

How To Avoid Collecting PII Information Using Google Analytics

With Google Analytics, you must manually make most of the changes if you need to adjust anything. Therefore, you must take active steps to avoid collecting PII from Google Analytics. Here are some tips to get you started:

Block PII Added by Users

Before you send information to Google Analytics, you can block the collection of PII from the data source.   

Limit Data Collection

You can also tweak some settings to filter out this sensitive data before it’s transferred to Google Analytics.

Avoid Fine-Grain Location Data

Ensure that the location data does not cover GPS because it’s PII. Additionally, avoid sending zip code information and tracking users within 1 square mile. 

Monitor Your Data Importation Process

As you import data, it should be free of PII. Ensure it does not show details such as a user’s mobile phone’s unique device identifier. Before you import any data, ensure that you comply with the Upload Data Use Policy

Concluding Thoughts

Google Analytics is essential for most businesses because it helps boost marketing efforts. However, you must know how to use it properly to avoid breaking the law or violating Google’s Terms of Service. Privacy regulations are now given the utmost priority globally. Failing to follow these regulations could impact your business negatively, which might lead you to lose your account. And if by mistake you do collect private information, you must abide by any data deletion request that might come your way.

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