Who: Google Inc. (“Google”)
When: 27 July 2015
Law stated as at: 11 August 2015
Google has announced that website publishers who use its targeted advertising tools, such as Google AdSense and DoubleClick, must adhere to its updated user consent policy by ensuring that they obtain the consent of end users in the EU before using the end user’s data.
Google’s AdSense product allows website publishers to serve targeted automatic text, image, video, or interactive ads to website or app users based on factors such as the user’s geographical location and content browsed. It is the most popular online advertising tool for monetising website content.
The change to Google’s user consent policy for AdSense and its other ad tools is the result of requests by various data protection authorities in the EU, in light of the EU’s cookie compliance regulations. Under Google’s updated policy, AdSense publishers must now obtain the consent of end users in the EU in relation to:
- the storing and accessing of cookies or other information on the end user’s device; and
- the collection, sharing and usage of data that takes place on any website or app as a consequence of using Google’s ad products.
Google has imposed a deadline for complying with this consent requirement of 30th September 2015.
Why this matters:
The policy imposes an obligation on publishers to obtain the cookie and data consent in respect of any site or app which receives traffic from the European Union. Potentially, this could affect any website based in any country in the world, and so the impact is certainly not limited to EU websites. This will mean that, in order to comply, even websites which usually don’t enjoy much European traffic will still need to keep an eye out for EU users in order to provide the required disclosure and obtain consent. The sites and apps affected will need to move quickly if they are to implement a compliant consent mechanism within Google’s timeframes.
It is worth noting that Google hasn’t offered sample consent messages that publishers can use in order to be compliant. This is because the message will need to be tailored in each case to describe the uses of cookies and other information, and the relevant third parties involved in the ad-serving process for the website or app in question. However, Google has purportedly provided some materials and resources designed to help digital publishers get started and meet their consent obligations on the Google Cookie Choices website.