Google is consistently upgrading its services to make them better and easier for users. Google has a policy that allows anyone under the age of 18 (or at the request of a guardian or parent) to request their photos be removed from search results. This is a very welcome development that many parents are taking advantage of. Now, the company is once again refining its collection of policies. A recent announcement from Google claims that it will expand the types of information it allows to disappear from searches. The new update focuses on personal contact information such as physical addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and confidential login credentials. Simply put, the update will focus on details that could lead to identity theft.
Google Search has always had an effective strategy for removing specific content, especially highly personal content. However, given that “the internet is always evolving,” the company’s approach needs to keep improving. This is necessary to prevent sensitive information from accidentally showing up anywhere on the web. If left unchecked, the discovery of such information can lead to a variety of problems. These issues range from financial fraud to human flesh searches and even personal injury.
Google making changes to protect users
“Open access to information is a key goal of the search, but so is empowering people with the tools they need to protect themselves and keep sensitive personally identifiable information private,” Michelle Chang, Google’s head of global policy for search, said in the announcement. “That’s why we’re updating our policies to help people have more control over their online presence in searches… The availability of personal contact information online can be unpleasant — and it can be harmful including unwanted direct contact, even physical contact, harm. Users have reported to us that they would like to be able to remove such information from searches in some cases.”
Despite the new update, Google promises to evaluate it first to ensure it “does not limit the availability of other broadly useful information”. Companies will also consider whether the content is part of a public record managed by a government or official source or news outlet. In the above case, Google will not execute the delete request.
Google encourages all individuals who wish to request in the future to communicate with the website itself containing the information. This is because the policy does not imply its complete removal from the internet. This means that the information will still be available on the website carrying the information. However, the website with the information will not show up on Google search.