Wanna go to a public school? Tell Google!

Even if you don’t want to, of course. At least in Italy.

Enrollments in italian public schools must be done online, on a government-owned website. So far, so good. This is what good public services in a digital age are supposed to be, isn’t it?

Not really. While using the website to enrol his son Michele Pinassi noted that that government website only gets a C+ vote from the DuckDuckGo privacy inspector.

Wanna go to a public school? Tell Google! /img/istruzione-trackers.jpg

When he checked, Pinassi found, and reports that is because that website includes three distinct trackers, from:

  • googletagmanager.com, for traffic analysis
  • googleads.g.doubleclick.net and static.doubleclick.net, for advertising

Hence the questions: why should Google…

  1. Why should Google, a private, foreign, for-profit company with often criticized privacy policies, also know that a certain family is sending (or not) their children to some public school?
  2. Why is an italian public website using a package like Google Analytics, that was found to be non-fully-compliant with the GDPR?
  3. Why is an italian government website not using the web traffic analysis package already developed (with public money) by another italian public agency?

Pinassi gives even more reasons why those choices, and the only answer he got from the Ministry that the trackers are there for “security reasons” (*), are far from satisfactory. But the ones I translated above should be enough to remind that no public website of any counotry should be, as Pinassi says, “at the service of data collection by private companies”.

(*) the official explanation that Pinassi received for the presence of Google Analytics would be that “it is exclusively aimed at logging for reasons of security of the access operations” and that (this is the best part IMHO) “it does not record and use any user tracking data” In other words, it is not clear what is it used for, period.