EU government websites littered with Google ad trackers

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Adtech trackers from Google and other firms were found on all but three government websites belonging to EU member states raising privacy concerns as citizens were tracked without their knowledge.

Following an analysis of 184,683 EU government web pages, Cookiebot has released a new report revealing that 112 companies have been tracking EU citizens' browsing habits when visiting such sites.

Adtech trackers were discovered on 25 of the 28 member states' sites with only those belonging to Spain, Germany and the Netherlands found to be free of commercial cookies.

According to Cookiebot's analysis, 52 companies were identified on France's government sites, 27 on Latvia's and 19 on Belgium's. However, twenty cookies were discovered on the UK government's website, GOV.UK, with 12 related to marketing and all the cookies belonging to Google.

Ad trackers

The firm's report describes the US search giant as the “kingpin of tracking” and the company's trackers were found on 82 percent of all the sites scanned. YouTube, DoubleClick and Google accounted for three of the top five trackers according to Cookiebot.

This was particularly concerning to the report's authors who pointed out the fact that Google can cross-reference trackers by using account details from its own services such as Gmail, Google Search and Android apps.

Cookiebot's analysis also examined public health service sites to discover that cookies were widespread with 52 percent of the sites tested found to contain commercial trackers.

The firm's founder Daniel Johannsen explained why finding ad trackers on government websites is such a big deal, saying:

"How can any organisation live up to its [European General Data Protection Regulation] GDPR and ePrivacy obligations if it does not control unauthorised tracking actors accessing their website? Public sector bodies now have the opportunity to lead by example – at a minimum by shutting down any digital rights infringements that they are facilitating on their own websites."

Via The Register

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Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.