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The Road Ahead
News, updates and thoughts from Calzada Media

Google AdSense Policy Breach Notice Message

0
05 Mar 2015
 by Alexander John in News
Length: 2 minutes, 55 seconds (584 words)

Like many Google account holders, we received a message last Sunday (1st March) with the subject Policy Breach Notice with the text:

Publisher ID: *******************************

Dear Publisher,

We have now verified that we are no longer detecting PII being passed to Google from the account(s) under your control.

Thank you for helping to resolve this matter.

Regards,

The Google Policy Team

Eh!? Even we were confused by this. The message has absolutely no context to it whatsoever. To be blunt, it is absolute gibberish. What is PII? What Policy?

A quick Google search later (the irony) explains that PII stands for Personal Identifiable Information. The general online opinion was that this message related to Google AdSense and that it probably had been sent out by mistake.

Five days later we've finally received confirmation from Google that this message was a mistake. If you haven't already received it, the message is:

Dear Publisher

Google recently sent you an email in English from publisher-policy-no-reply@google.com, with the subject of "policy breach notice," regarding personally identifiable information.

The message was sent in error; we would like to convey our sincerest apologies for the alarm that this must have caused you and your colleagues.

You do not need to take specific action on this erroneous message however, due to the dynamic nature of publisher monetization we encourage you to periodically review our resources regarding PII.

As you know, our policies prohibit partners from sending us data that could be recognized or used by our systems as personally identifiable information. When we learn of violations, we notify the publisher and take swift action.

We know that you take user data and our program policies very seriously, and this message must have caught you off guard. For more information about the specific policies that govern passing PII to Google, and tips for continuing to keep your account compliant, please visit our help center.

Thank you,

Stephen, Amy, Geoff and Rebecca
Google Publisher Policy Team

Google Inc. 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043

You have received this mandatory email service announcement to update you about important changes to your AdSense or DoubleClick product or account.

The good news is that there is nothing to worry about. If you have a Google AdSense account, your adverts should still be appearing.

For your own protection, you should never pass any personally identifiable information (PII) to Google through any of your ads hosted by AdSense. It would appear that some time ago some publishers (aka AdSense customers) were found to be passing this information and Google notified them of their mistakes. Google then sent the Policy Breach Notice message to those publishers they considered to have fixed the mistakes. Unfortunately, it would appear that Google sent the same message to a large proportion of publishers who have never made the mistake (us included).

Mistakes do happen. It is sometimes frighteningly easy to send messages to the wrong recipients when you are using automated systems. In all likelihood there was probably a couple lines of wonky code involved.

It is a little unfortunate that it appears to have taken Google 5 days to acknowledge and apologise. This is after all, a corporation with a market value of $400 billion. Did it really take 4-5 days to investigate?

As for the original Policy Breach Notice message, we're thinking of using it as an example of how not to communicate with your customers.

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