Do Google ever really commit to “Do No Evil”? They might not be buddies with Lucifer, but some news about something as banal as fonts is chilling. To me.

I await someone with more expertise to shed some light, but this is how I read a recent snipped of chilling tech news.

In late January, a Munich regional court ruled that a plaintiff was entitled to injunctive relief and damages of 100 € from an undisclosed website owner for passing on the visitor’s IP address to Google through the use of Google Fonts.

Since it is possible to use the fonts without connecting to Google, the court deemed this a violation of Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) because Google Fonts exposes the visitor’s IP address:

https://wptavern.com/german-court-fines-website-owner-for-violating-the-gdpr-by-using-google-hosted-fonts

Let me see if I understand correctly. Of I as a small time web site owner, use a Google font on my site that is loaded from Google’s services, I am responsible because a visitor to my site has their IP address sniffed and transmitted to Google.

Google Fonts FAQ discloses the data collection under a section about user privacy and states that it caches responses to minimize requests and serve the fonts faster. It does not specify exactly what data is collected but seems to imply that the information it collects is necessary to serve the fonts

https://wptavern.com/german-court-fines-website-owner-for-violating-the-gdpr-by-using-google-hosted-font

It’s not even clear what Google collects or why a user’s IP address is necessary to “serve fonts efficiently.”

So Google sponges user data via it’s fonts on my site, and I am subject to possible blame (well likely not since I am not in Europe, but still…)

The German court’s ruling threatens a fine of €250,000.00 for each case of infringement or, alternatively, six months imprisonment, if the site owner does not comply and continues to provide Google with IP addresses through their use of Google Fonts.

https://wptavern.com/german-court-fines-website-owner-for-violating-the-gdpr-by-using-google-hosted-fonts

So who wants to go to jail for a decorative font? They are literally franchising blame for their evil

Do no Evil is s damn Quaint written in a fancy Google script font
Screenshot of some words written with Google Festive Font

Now it is possible to avoid taking on the Franchise by serving the fonts directly from your site rather than via the Google CDN. Yet the steps written for say WordPress are hardly trivial.

Taking convenience as the path and avoiding doing the more complex work are part of signing on for being part of Google Evil Franchisement. Billions and billions served.


Featured Image: Franchise agreement by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Pix4free modified by Alan Levine to reference Google, different wording plus Google logo pixabay image by ElisaRiva — all of it shall be licensed CC-BY-SA

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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