Google Analytics under investigation by German privacy officials

My German sucks, so here are the basics: The Datenschutzbeauftragten — roughly "Data Protection Commisioners" — in Germany's Berlin and Schleswig-Holstein regions believe that Google Analytics, a service which Web publishers use to track their traffic, may violate a German ruling handed down in March. The ruling says website visitors' IP addresses cannot be stored unless the vistor has given prior consent — basically impossible unless Google makes us all sign up before we use the Internet. Why is this a big deal? Because an estimated 80 percent of top German websites have Google Analytics installed. While we're at it, Google has been vague about how their systems use cookies stored in visitors' browsers — another potential violation of German law that protects Web surfers' personal information. A German tipster summed it up thusly, in English:

Hi Paul,

just some corrections. Actually the ruling leads to the fact, that google analytics, as it provides its service right now, will never be legal in Germany. To give an example: The user must give its consent, which according to the german law has to be done, BEFORE HE VISITS the website. Even if some websites put that condition in their terms & conditions, it is still illegal, because, by reading the T&C, the user already visited the website. From my point of view this will become a big thing in Germany, as the government argues about the storage of data by the government for nothing longer than 6 months for years now.