Many EU government websites not in compliance with GDPR

According to the GDPR and e-privacy compliance firm Cookiebot’s most recent report (which can be downloaded here), many EU government websites are in breach of the EU’s new GDPR policy. The report makes the following claim before it breaks down the statistical evidence:

Ad tech companies are extensively tracking EU citizens who visit non-ad funded government and public sector websites. Even on sites featuring sensitive health information, vulnerable citizens are unknowingly being tracked. EU governments and public sectors are thereby — unintentionally — serving as platforms for online commercial surveillance.

The facts are quite unnerving for anyone concerned about privacy, or at the least, ensuring that they are following GDPR policies. According to the report, the following disturbing statistics can be found:

  • 89 percent of EU government websites possess third-party trackers.
  • 52 percent of public sector health-care websites have trackers.
  • An estimated 112 third-party companies are monitoring citizens of the EU via public websites.
  • 52 different companies were found to be using trackers on citizens visiting the French government’s website.
  • 82 percent of EU websites have “Google marketing trackers.”

Cookiebot believes that the vast majority of these cases are not intentional instances of tracking, but rather based on exploitation of the code in the web pages. They explain further via the following statement:

This report presents evidence of widespread systematic tracking by the ad tech industry on government websites that are not funded by ads. These results indicate that many other non-ad funded websites may also be unintentionally serving as platforms for online surveillance.

Modern websites typically include multiple 3rd party JavaScript technologies to power various functions, such as video players, social sharing widgets, web analytics, galleries and comments sections. These scripts can act as Trojan horses, opening backdoors to the website code through which ad tech companies can silently insert their trackers.

Until the various EU nations are able to fix these issues, and even when they do, I would highly recommend as a longtime privacy activist to use anti-tracking and anti-fingerprinting technologies. There are browsers like the Brave browser that allow for blocking of not only ads, but the fingerprinting that these trackers employ. There are also plugins like Privacy Badger from the Electronic Frontier Foundation that provide some protection from tracking as well. Another resource from the EFF is Panopticlick which tests your browser against common tracking techniques and tells you what can be improved upon.

If you are concerned about your privacy, you should always assume the worst when it comes to any website you visit. Intentional or not, there will always be someone waiting to take your data and use it for their own means.

Featured image: Pixabay

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