I receive more and more warnings from the lawyer Kilian Lenard from Berlin. This is a reminder for a certain Mr. Martin Ismail from the Interessengemeinschaft Datenschutz about an alleged DSGVO violation at my client's site. Neither a power of attorney nor an address of the allegedly affected party are mentioned. It also remains completely unclear who or what the Interessengemeinschaft Datenschutz (IG Datenschutz) is at all. Only that this has committed itself to the enforcement of data protection by civil law, one can infer from the letter.
What does Mr. Martin Ismail want in the first place??
It remains unclear whether Mr. Ismail or the IG data protection want to be concerned. In any case, it had come to my attention that my clients were using Google Fonts on their websites and that the IP addresses of the website visitors were thus being forwarded to the USA. Mr. Ismail has not given his consent. Also, no justification for the transmission of the IP address to Google is apparent. The right to informational self-determination is thus violated. Mr. Ismail has injunctive relief against my clients. In return for a payment of EUR 170.00 and immediate removal of the alleged infringement, however, the matter would be left to rest. It remains unclear whether Mr. Ismail also warns here an omission.
What is the problem with the use of Google Fonts??
Google Fonts is a free directory of nearly 1400 fonts (eng.: fonts). When using Google Fonts, there are two different options: On the one hand, you can upload the desired font to your own server and then embed it locally in your own website. In this case, no data is transmitted to Google when the user calls up the website, so there is no risk of a data protection violation. The situation is different with dynamic integration: Here the fonts are not integrated via the own server, but via code snippets in the HTML code of the website. If the website is now called up, a connection is established to a Google server, so that at least the IP address of the site visitor is transmitted to Google. If this data transfer takes place without the user's prior consent, this may constitute a violation of data protection laws. The LG Munich, judgement of 20.01.2022, Az. 3 O 17493/20, has awarded a claim for injunctive relief and damages in such a case.
What is the best way to react to a warning about the use of Google Fonts??
First of all: Keep calm!
- Do not make a hasty payment under any circumstances!
- First get legal advice.
It must always be examined in each individual case whether a concrete infringement of the rights of the person issuing the warning has taken place. I am of the opinion that the claim is unjustified, despite a possible data protection violation, because the alleged violation of personal rights does not exist.
In the event that it is indeed a case of an abusive "mass warning", the risk of a judicial assertion of the claims should also be relatively low. However, there is always a residual risk of being held liable for costs (damages and opposing counsel's legal fees) and, if necessary, an action for injunctive relief, which involves a significantly higher risk. I would be happy to advise you individually on this topic.