Warning wave because of Google Fonts

Thousands of website operators are currently receiving warnings accusing them of an “inadmissible encroachment on general personal rights” and a violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The reason: They have integrated free Google Fonts online on their websites.

Thousands of website operators are currently being asked to pay because they have embedded free Google fonts in their websites. They should fork out 100 to almost 500 euros.

Integration of Google Fonts

“Google Fonts” is a directory of hundreds of freely usable fonts. Site operators can download them and make them available locally on their own web servers. Alternatively, you can also integrate the selected fonts online. The latter means that the browser of the site visitor downloads the respective fonts from the servers of the US group Google when the site is accessed. And here lies the problem.

The basis for the warnings

In January 2022 it had District Court (LG) Munich prohibited the online use of Google Fonts because unauthorized personal data is passed on to Google in the USA. A decision that is mostly criticized in the legal discussion as exaggerated.

The argument at the time that the transmission to Google already resulted in a “loss of control” for those affected and an “individual feeling of unease” is now adopted by the writers of the warnings and letters of demand. You would have visited the recipient’s website, who was using the online version of Google Fonts, which would have caused individual discomfort. As a result, 100 euros in damages are claimed. If the letter comes from warning lawyers, even higher costs are to be expected: they not only demand that the recipients pay their clients’ damages, but they should also issue a cease-and-desist declaration for the use of Google Fonts and assume the lawyer’s fees incurred, usually in the amount of 367.23 euros.

Recommendations for action

Especially the legal warnings are by no means “safe cases” for the warning persons. There is some evidence that they are rather abusive, since the alleged victims may have deliberately accessed the respective websites. To be on the safe side, legal laypersons should still seek advice from an IT lawyer.

If the letter of formal notice does not come from an attorney, there is some evidence that the letter can be ignored. As things currently stand, it is unlikely that the majority of courts will follow the views of the Munich Regional Court regarding the payment of monetary compensation.

In principle, all website operators who use free Google Fonts should of course switch to the locally hosted version in order to avoid such warnings from the outset.

Sources: heise online & derStandard