Google Fonts, new “grain” for digital animators: the problem and the solutions

There is no peace for the digital animators of Italian schools. After the issues related to pandemicit seemed the time had come to devote himself again to the duties envisaged by the National Digital School Plan (PNSD).

But no: a new “alert” has hit Public Administrations and in particular Schools.
After the storm of Google Analytics, on which the Guarantor for the protection of personal data had already turned his attention, the interest was focused on an illegal use of Google Fonts API service.

While in the first case the problem could be considered somewhat marginal, since for a school (and not only) it is not essential to analyze in detail the browsing behavior of its visitors, the same cannot be said for the use of the web fonts of the Google family.

AGID and the Titillium Web font

The Agency for Digital Italy (AGID), in conjunction with the Digital Transformation Teamcreated the platform a few years ago Docs Italya platform based on the open source project Read the Docsto publish technical and administrative documents, and offers citizens the opportunity to read and comment on public documents and be informed on the progress of projects.

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In this regard, already in 2017, some guidelines for the design of digital services which are part of the European path to improve services in the life of citizens, in order to make administrations and public institutions more efficient and inclusive.
Within those guidelines In correspondence with the section relating to typographic styles, there is an important reference to Google Fonts web font.

The font family Titillium was born within the Academy of Fine Arts of Urbino and is distributed with Open Font License (OFL) from Google Fonts; this set of characters is composed of numerous fonts of different typographic weights (from Extra-Light to Ultra-Bold) thus guaranteeing extreme flexibility of use in composing texts.

Its fame stems from the fact that it was chosen as the visual identity of Italian digital public services, that is, how institutional typeface for online public administration.

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The problem

The Google Fonts service can be used remotely, by connecting to the Google Fonts server, or locally, by installing the necessary fonts directly in your web space.
In the first case, a specific style link must be added to the HTML document, such as .

Each time the user connects to the desired page, the browser, to display the desired characters, must send a request to the fonts.googleapis.com server.
As specified by Google, the Google Fonts API is designed to limit the collection, storage and use of end-user data to only what is necessary for the efficient publication of fonts. Of course, everything related to the HTTP request remains logged, including the timestamp, the requested URL, and all HTTP headers (including the referrer and user agent string) provided in connection with the use of the CSS API; but not the IP addresses.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), IP addresses, advertising IDs and cookies are protected personal data and therefore they can be processed only if all the conditions provided for by the GDPR itself are met.
And here’s why thousands of public administrations (including several schools) have received a notice from Monitora PAwhich assumes a transfer to the USA of citizens’ personal data.

The fastest solution to stay calm is then to avoid as much as possible to enter code external to the website that creates connections to third-party servers, but always remain within its own domain.
In other words, it is sufficient to download the desired font from the site and insert the relative files in a folder of your web space; of course the procedure is feasible even if not immediate for those unfamiliar with the remote management of a site and the use of style sheets (css).

Designers Italia to the aid of digital animators

Designers Italia is a project, curated by the Department for Digital Transformation in collaboration with the Agency for Digital Italy (AGID), which acts as a reference point for the design of digital public services.

In particular, Designers Italia technicians have defined a site model for Italian schoolsboth to meet the needs of the school community and to create a national standard.

The adoption of this model makes it possible to adhere to the design guidelines for the websites and digital services of the PA, providing a coherent experience between the institutions and facilitating their use for citizens who move between various schools: it includes the information architecture, HTML templates and CMS themes, accompanied by a series of practical guides to support.

To meet the logical shortcomings of school operators, it was also made available at the beginning of the summer a new theme for WordPress “Design Schools Italy”; it automatically sets the graphic style of the site, the layouts of the pages and the navigation menu, allowing to speed up the technical adoption of the model and to focus on the creation of content on the pages.

The good news, in addition to the full compliance with the accessibility requirements, concerns the problem related to Google Fonts: the “officially recommended” font families (Lora, Roboto Mono and Titillium Web) are already incorporated in a folder of the WordPress theme and therefore usable without any request to remote servers (such as fonts.googleapis.com).

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Google Fonts, new “grain” for digital animators: the problem and the solutions – Digital Agenda