AdSense Privacy Policy Requirements

In February of 2009, Google instituted a requirement that all AdSense publishers display a privacy policy on any website using AdSense product features. Whether they are displaying contextual ads or integrating custom search, not having a privacy policy on a site puts the AdSense publisher’s account at risk of being terminated. While this may seem harsh, Google is very serious about privacy protection and keeping the trust of the general public, especially as they integrate different advertising networks into the AdSense system.

Adding a privacy policy that complies with Google’s AdSense policies is not hard to do, but there are some specific requirements to include in your policy.

Start with a general privacy policy, such as the ones you’ll find on any of the popular commercial sites like Amazon, eBay or even Google itself. The policy should describe what you do with routine web server data as well as any personally-identifiable information such as names and email addresses.

Alter the policy to comply with the following requirements:

* Ensure to your best ability that your privacy policy complies with any applicable laws, particularly those of your home state/province and country.

* Mention that third parties, such as advertisers, may use cookies and/or web beacons to track and collect visitor information. (Cookies are little bits of data that are left on the user’s computer when they visit a website; web beacons are small, invisible images that are downloaded from a third-party site when a page is loaded.)

* Describe how users can use browser settings to manage their privacy, such as by disabling cookie support for specific sites.

Once you’ve made the appropriate changes to the policy, either place a copy of it on all your AdSense sites or link them all to a central, shared policy. The privacy policy should be prominently displayed on those sites, too, so that users can easily find them and alleviate any privacy concerns they might have.

Note that Google does not offer specific examples of compliant privacy policies, nor do they offer specific legal advice on what to place in your policy. All they do is state their requirements, it’s up to you to come up with a suitable policy. That’s why you’ll usually start by modifying someone else’s already-published policy and adapting it to Google’s requirements. (If you rely on a legal firm to develop a policy for you to use, be sure to pass those requirements to them so that they can be incorporated into the legal documents they create.)

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