Recently, Google announced it would expand the feature that prevented other people from accessing users’ personal info. Previously, the feature only protected details that might lead someone to steal another user’s identity or money. However, now Google will remove information like a user’s physical address, phone number, and passwords from Google Search results. Thus, now users can request the company to remove URLs indicating their personal information.
Moreover, Google claims that expanding the feature to protect users’ personal info is necessary in an ever-evolving internet world. As a result, people getting access to users’ phone numbers or home addresses through a search engine is harmful. Here is a list of personal information Google plans to prevent showing up on search results –
- Confidential government identification (ID) numbers like U.S. Social Security Number, Argentine Single Tax Identification Number, etc.
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Images of handwritten signatures
- Images of ID docs
- Highly personal, restricted, and official records, like medical records (used to read “Confidential personal medical records”)
- Personal contact info (physical addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses)
- Confidential login credentials
Besides that, Google will also remove –
- Non-consensual explicit
- Intimate personal images
- Pornographic deepfakes
- Photoshops featuring a user’s likeness
- Links to sites with “exploitative removal practices.”
How to send the request to Google?
- Submit the request to Google like the list of URLs involving your personal information and search pages with those links
- After that, Google will evaluate your request
Note: Google says it will “preserve information access if the content is determined to be of public interest.” For example, if it is newsworthy, professionally relevant, or came from a government.
Furthermore, if Google concludes the URLs need to be removed, they will no longer appear in any search query with the user’s name.
However, the company has set a pretty high bar for determining what verifies as personal information. Hence, Google will only remove links from the search results containing sensitive info. Ned Adriance, a Google spokesperson, stated, “If we can verify that these links contain personally identifiable information, with no other content on the webpage that may be of public interest, and we receive a request to remove those URLs, we will do so, assuming they meet our requirements outlined in the help page — whether or not the information is behind a paywall.”
Lastly, it is essential to note that removing links from Google Search results will not wipe them off the internet. That is, a post wouldn’t show up only if someone searches “[your name] home address.”