As a Google AdSense Publisher, I just received (a few hours ago) a PII-related notification from Google with the subject “Policy Breach Notice”. The e-mail does not elaborate as its content simply looks like the one hereunder:
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.
The Google Policy Team”
Is that a bad sign? Not really!
Because any breach notification from Google Adsense team may trigger worrying thoughts to any Adsense Publisher, I just did a little research over the web in order to make things clear over this aspect. It turns out that it wasn’t only me, but also dozens other users who received similar message.
What is PII?
Well, PII is the acronym/abbreviation for Personally Identifiable Information. For account protection and safety purposes, Google AdSense policies states that account holders should not transfer any information to Google that might resemble the Personally Identifiable Information. Practically publishers must keep in mind that it is their responsibility to make sure that are not passing data to Google,,,data which Google could use or recognize as PII.
When Adsense ID owners happen for whatever reason to send over such private data, Google replies with a notification message to resolve the problem. Only after the publisher in question troubleshoots the PII issue, then Google sends the email (above) which is subject to this analysis.
No worrying reasons!
The puzzling part is that most publishers received the above-mentioned message without any prior notification, therefore Google probably made an error and obviously has to come with further explanation. Besides that, the email ends with the remark: “Thank you for helping to resolve this matter”, therefore you should stay calm and keep doing your job as usually because the “matter is confirmed as resolved.”
P/S: Discussions on Adsense forum claim that if you get a message that states:
“We have now verified that we are no longer detecting PII being passed to Google from the account(s) under your control,”
then there is no issue with your PII. If you have never been informed previously that you did have a PII violation, then you can safely disregard it.
How is PII passed to Google? [This info addresses only to those who indeed received a prior breach notification claiming that Google systems have detected PII, including email addresses and/or passwords, being passed from various domain names.]
Response from Adsense Team provides details (see below):
“These emails are warnings that were issued by Google following our detection of personally identifiable information (PII) being passed to us in ad requests from your sites or apps in breach of our policies on Identifying Users.
There are different ways in which this might occur. We recommend you start your investigation with the following steps:
Check the URLs of pages where you’ve implemented Google ads to ensure they do not contain visitors’ usernames, passwords, email addresses, or other PII.
If you’re using a Google product that allows you to add macros, such as the key-values feature of DFP, check that you’re not placing any information into these macros that Google would consider PII.
If your site includes an HTML form, consider using the method=POST implementation instead of the method=GET implementation, which is more likely to pass PII to the URL.
This is not an exhaustive list, and you should remember that it is every publisher’s responsibility to ensure that it is not passing data to Google that Google could use or recognize as PII.
If you received an email on this issue, you should address the problem. Let us know when you’ve resolved the issue by marking “The problem has been fixed” on the form linked in the original violation email. In the meantime, you should mark “I acknowledge the alert, and I will investigate accordingly.” If you believe you were contacted in error, you should mark “I believe I was contacted in error. Please re-review my account.”
— The Google AdSense team”