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AdSense Publishers: check your California Consumer Privacy Act settings

If you are an AdSense publisher, you should see a notification in your account about the California Consumer Privacy Act. Google offers two options to help you comply with these new regulations: enable restricted data processing for California users or use publisher ad tags to restrict data processing when a visitor to your site clicks a "Do Not Sell My Personal Information" link.

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) goes into effect on January 1, 2020. The regulations are meant to provide privacy protections, with the aim of ensuring Californians owncontrol, and secure their personal information.

Which businesses does CCPA apply to?
Under the California Consumer Privacy Act only businesses that earn $50,000,000 a year in revenue, sell 100,000 consumer’s records each year or derive 50% of their annual revenue by selling your personal information must comply. All businesses must comply if they collect or sell Californian’s personal information, whether they are located in California, a different state or even a different country. (Source)
"Selling" includes transfer of personal information "to another business or a third party for monetary or other valuable consideration." That likely includes data transmitted to Google that AdSense uses to display personalized ads.

Note: I am not an attorney or expert in privacy law, so if you have questions about whether this applies to your business or website, or how best to comply with the CCPA, please consult a lawyer.

What options does AdSense offer to help Publishers comply with the CCPA?

AdSense offers two Restricted Data Processing options to help Publishers comply with the CCPA.
  1. Enable restricted data processing in your AdSense account settings for all programmatic traffic for users in California. Read on for instructions on how to enable that setting.
  2. Display a “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link, and send a restricted data processing signal on a per-request basis once a user has opted out of the sale of their personal information. Learn how to change the restricted data processing settings in Google's publisher ad tags.  
Enabling restricted data processing in your AdSense account is the easiest option.

When restricted data processing is enabled, Google will only display non-personalized ads.
Non-personalized ads are not based on a user’s past behavior. They are targeted using contextual information, including coarse (such as city-level, but not ZIP/postal code) geo-targeting based on current location, and content on the current site or app or current query terms. Google disallows all interest-based audience targeting, including demographic targeting and user list targeting when in restricted data processing mode.
When you enable restricted data processing, that change will go into effect December 12. If your website gets a lot of traffic from California, that may affect your AdSense earnings.

Google has also updated their Service Provider Terms, which will go into effect January 1st.

Enable restricted data for users in California in your AdSense account

1. Sign in to AdSense (www.google.com/adsense)
2. On the left menu click Blocking controls

3. Under Blocking controls click All sites

4. Click Manage CCPA Settings
5. Select your CCPA setting
  • Don’t restrict data processing (default). Google will continue to show personalized ads to users in California. If you select this option, you can place a "Do Not Sell My Personal Information" opt-out link on your site. Learn more.
  • Restrict data processing, Google will only show non-personalized, contextual ads to eligible users in California. 
6. Click the Save changes button

I have enabled the CCPA restricted data processing option. If you are a visitor from California - hi fellow Californian! -  you won't see personalized ads here starting December 12.

Learn more

The regulations are not finalized yet. The State of California is holding hearings and taking written comments from interested parties on the regulations into the first week of December.

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