Google Analytics

GA4 + Data Privacy: How GA4 Aligns with GDPR and CCPA

The importance of consumer data protection in 2023 + getting familiar with GDPR and CCPA standards

With the abundance of data available on consumers, marketing and sales leaders can gain a deeper understanding of their customers' behavior. However, as the saying goes, great responsibility comes with great power. In recent years, various laws have been enacted to protect the privacy of individuals. These laws, such as the GDPR in Europe and the CCPA in California, have made it important for companies to implement effective data protection measures.

The latest version of Google Analytics, known as GA4, has raised questions regarding how the platform handles the privacy of its users. The company claims that this update is more than just a technical enhancement. It is the answer to the global call to implement more stringent data protection measures.

GA4 Overview + Tracking 

In 2022, Google released the latest version of its analytics software, known as GA4. Prior to July 2023, users had to switch to the newer version in order for Google to stop tracking UA.

The new version of Google's software was designed to provide users with more privacy and future-proof features. It utilizes a different data model from its predecessor, Universal Analytics, which makes it harder to identify individual users.

GA4 is designed to help businesses improve their customer experience and make informed marketing decisions while ensuring their privacy and adhering to relevant regulations. In addition, it offers cross-device tracking to meet the needs of modern digital goods, allowing people to access them on different platforms.

For instance, you can use Netflix on different devices such as a TV, a desktop, a mobile phone, or a tablet. However, Universal Analytics didn't have the necessary capabilities to track users across these different platforms.

With GA4, businesses can now track their users across different devices and sessions. This feature allows them to gain a deeper understanding of how their customers interact with their various touchpoints as they move from one app to another.

Furthermore, through its measurement protocol feature, GA4 can also track users from various offline sources, such as loyalty cards and POS. By integrating offline and online data, businesses can gain unique perspectives on their customers.

EU - U.S. Data Privacy & Compliance with GA4

In addition to being more flexible, GA4 now has a measurement model that takes into account event-based data. This makes it easier for the company to collect more granular information about its users, such as their locations and activities. In addition, website owners can opt out of receiving information about their users, such as geographical data.

One of the most important features of GA4 is its ability to prevent the store or log of user IP addresses from being used by EU-based individuals. This feature is part of the company's privacy and data protection measures. It could address a key issue raised by the authorities, who found that anonymizing was inadequate.

Although the EU-US Data Privacy Framework can help Google Analytics 4 comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it does not automatically make the software GDPR-compliant. As a result, it is up to the website owner to ensure that the data it collects is in compliance with the law.

How to Become GDPR-Compliant with GA4

Enable explicit/opt-in consent 

Users should have the ability to set and control their Google Analytics cookies so they only activate after they have explicitly granted their consent. They should also have a granular control option so that they can select which cookies they want to accept or reject.

Google consent mode

With Google Consent Mode, websites can dynamically adjust the way Google tags appear on their pages based on the users' consent choices. This feature ensures that only those applications that are enabled by the users will be used for specific purposes. 

Google Consent Mode works by allowing websites to modify the behavior of their Google tags after users explicitly reject or allow cookies. This feature ensures that no data is collected without their consent. Image Courtesy of the Cookie Script

Clear privacy and cookie policy 

The operators of a website should ensure that the information they collect from their users is clear and transparent. Cookies are essential information that website visitors should be aware of, and they should be provided with details about the technologies that are used to track their activities, such as duration, purpose, and cookies.

Although a cookie policy is typically a separate document, it can be included in the overall privacy policy. The purpose of this policy is to provide users with the necessary information to make informed decisions regarding the use of the website.

Sign up for a data processing agreement (DPA) with Google 

A data processing agreement is a legally binding agreement that sets out the procedures and rights that are required to ensure that the personal data of an individual is protected. It helps to establish a framework for the exchange of information and ensure that both parties are aware of their responsibilities.

GA4 + CCPA Compliance

The CCPA was one of the first major state laws to establish a comprehensive privacy regulation in the digital age. It made it mandatory for businesses to change their data collection methods and actively safeguard the privacy of consumers. As a marketing and sales professional, it’s important that you stay in compliance.

One of the most important mandates of the CCPA is the “Do Not sell My Information” rule. This allows consumers to have their personal data deleted from the sales process. Through features in GA4, website operators can honor this request and keep their marketing strategies compliant. Image Courtesy of the Cookie Script. 

The CCPA encourages businesses to only retain data for as long as it is needed, and it has recently introduced enhanced features in GA4 that allow them to set specific time limits on how long their data should be kept. This proactive approach helps keep the privacy of their users protected while also ensuring that their business can collect valuable analytics.

One of the most important requirements of the CCPA is the ability to accurately identify the users' data when they make a request to have their information deleted or access it. With the help of GA4, website operators can now implement effective tools that allow them to identify and manage their users' requests efficiently. This is a clear demonstration of the company's commitment to ensuring that the data it collects is handled ethically.

Accessing & Deleting Data Under GDPR and CCPA

The rights granted to users by regulations in GDPR and CCPA are designed to allow them to access and receive all their personal information. They also have the right to ask for the deletion of their data. In the past year, Google Analytics has started implementing technical tools that allow users to get rid of their personal information in a more effective manner. 

Accessing data

You can use the Google Analytics 4 User Explorer or the Google Analytics Activity report to pull event details for any individual user. These features will allow you to export and analyze the data for that user, and the default option is to use the Device ID or the User ID, depending on your website's configuration.

The User Explorer is part of the Analysis section of Google Analytics 4. You can create a filter or segment to include the user identifier for the individual who requested it. Then, you can export the results to satisfy the request.

In addition to being able to export event details for any individual user, Google Analytics 4 now supports the integration of its properties with BigQuery. This feature allows you to create a single repository that holds all of the data associated with each user, which will also allow you to easily access the data in a more efficient manner.

Data deletion

In GA4, there are two methods for deleting data. You can either remove all traces of an individual event or all data associated with a specific user.

Data deletion requests are usually made when you have collected personal information or PII, typically in a parameter across multiple events. This method can be used to violate Google's Terms of Service. It can also lead to the destruction of all the collected data in a property.

In GA4, there are various ways that personal information or PII can be collected and stored. Some of these include the inclusion of emails in the URL parameter of a website's search boxes or the users filling out forms on the site. It is still a violation to collect and store this type of information.

Deleting user data

In GA4, there are two types of data deletion regarding the users: the deletion of user properties and the deletion of users. User Properties are the parameters that are associated with the user being tracked.

Standard user properties in GA4 are collected and configured. There are also custom properties that can be created. With the data deletion request option, you can remove data from a specific user property.Although the data deletion request option can remove various details about a user, it does not remove all of the information that they have taken out of your digital properties.

The second type of data deletion is the one that's used when a user requests to be forgotten. This method can be used in accordance with the provisions of the CCPA or GDPR. Similar to the methods used for other requests, you can also use the Google Analytics API or the Google Analytics 4 user interface to fulfill the request.

Disabling Advertising Personalization 

One of the most useful features in GA4 is advertising personalization, which allows you to collect data for various purposes, such as ad personalization. Image Courtesy of Bounteous

Advertising personalization can be used in combination with other features, such as User ID and Google signals. According to Google's documentation, this feature can be used to collect data related to your activities in Google Analytics.

This section of GA4's advertising features describes the various functions that are related to the collection of data for targeted advertising. It is a sub-classification that allows users to take advantage of the various functions that are related to the collection of data for targeted advertising. It allows them to exclude certain actions that could be considered as falling under the scope of "sale."

Although users have the option to decline the processing of advertising personalization, this does not mean that they can prevent the collection and use of data. With the ability to disable ad personalization, GA4 can still collect data for each individual user, and can also provide reports and supplement the collected data with other information.

Take the Next Big Step Towards Data Protection with GA4 Today

Today, people are more concerned than ever with their privacy when it comes to their data. Having a good understanding of this is very important, especially when you use tools such as Google Analytics.

GA4 is helpful because it shows you how people use your site. However, it should be used in the right way so that it doesn’t violate any laws. Some of the laws that regulate how you can use your data include the CCPA in California and the GDPR in Europe, as have been covered.

Whether you’re new to running a website or have had some experience already, it’s important that you take privacy seriously. Take the time to familiarize yourself with GA4 and understand all the ways out there to keep data safe!

Get great insight from our expert team.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By signing up you agree to our Terms & Conditions