I am attempting to balance my need for analytics with privacy concerns. I know that Google Analytics offers an IP anonymization feature to remove the last octet of visitors' IP addresses, should a client enable it. Google explains that in such a scenario:
The IP anonymization/masking takes place as soon as data is received by the Analytics Collection Network, before any storage or processing takes place.
This, however, seemingly reduces the accuracy of Geolocation services. My question is thus whether there is any information available as to whether Google actually retains the full IP addresses of visitors in a database (and for how long), even though such IP addresses are not shown on my analytics report.
According to LittleData, when IP anonymization is disabled:
The customer’s IP address is not stored by Google in a database, or accessible to any client company, but it could potentially be accessed by a Google employee.
This, however, both lacks a source and leads me to wonder what the real purpose of the IP anonymization feature is, if the data isn't actually retained in a database anyway. Is this merely to prevent the full IP address from ever touching a database/being processed, or does Google really retain it?