google fails (so far) to comply to my data subject access request

Regular readers of will recall that back in August I got kicked out of Google Adsense.

I appealed to Google, asking for them to spefically disclose what, if any, evidence they had that I had broken their terms and conditions or had engaged in “click fraud”. The email response I received following my appeal appeared to be automatically generated which got me thinking, perhaps the whole process of being banned had been an automated process based upon some data they’d gathered about me or my audience.

“Hey, that’s kinda scary” I thought, “what data does google collect each time I search, each time I visit a page displaying a google ad, each time someone visits my pages displaying google ads? How are they using this data??”.

By this stage in my thought process, having proof that I’d been unfairly kicked out of adsense actually became secondary – I really just wanted to know what information Google had about me and why…

So I sent Google’s UK office a Subject Access Request which, under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998, a UK law that requires anyone gathering or storing data to disclose what information they hold and how that information is, has been, or will be used. Google can, if they wish, charge me a nominal fee (£10 I think is the upper limit) for photocopying, printing and posting of the data to me – and they have 40 days to reply.

It’s now been 37 working days, 54 days in total, since I wrote to Google. I am now drafting them a letter explaining that, by not complying with my previous request, they may be in breach of the provisions of the Data Protection Act. My letter will give them a strict deadline of ten days for a response and, should they not respond, I will complain to the Information Commissioner.

More when there’s more…


  1. Im sure if you do get a response from google it will be vert Tesco like, jsut the bare minimum you can get away with. If you get a response at all. Good luck though, Ill be watching this one closely.

  2. I too have taken Google to task under this act (for the same reasons) and am currently awaiting a response from them. Ironically, I was just doing a Google search on the Data Protection Act when I came upon this!!
    It would be good to if you could contact me directly, as maybe if both of our efforts are fruitless, we could make a joint effort? Strength in numbers etc.
    Good luck,

  3. Hi again,
    Just as a follow up to my previous comment here…
    I actually got a response from Google with the information I asked for. Actually, I was very surprised at how quick they responded, but that may be due to the very strong wording in my letter expalining what would happen of they did not provide me with the information I asked for.
    Although I am happy that they provided the information, I am not so content that some of the information was incorrect. Included in the information was a series of four IP addresses which they say invalid clicks were generated. Three of these were actually my own fixed IP and one very similar. I have never clicked on my own ads. Also, on a particular date an invalid click was generated, I was no where near any computer, let alone my own, so I am not sure how they got this information!
    Just wondering if you had any luck yet?

  4. Hi Bruce,
    Thanks for following up. Nope, no luck here.
    Can you send me a copy of the letter you sent, and the address you sent it to, so I can use what’s been successful for you? That would be really useful.
    Many Thanks,

  5. Would you mind mailing me your letter to google also? I would really appreciate basing a letter on your successful one.
    Kindest Regards

  6. Hey,
    Has any one had any luck with this? Any chance of getting a template of the email?
    I got banned on AdWords and AdSense which was a bummer as I live off AdWords.

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