Google Search removal requests expanded to include personal contact information
Google has now expanded Google Search removal requests to include additional personally identifiable contact information, such as a person’s phone number, email address, or physical address.
Up until now, people have been able to request the removal of other certain sensitive information from Search, such as doxxing content — which is when a person’s contact information is shared in a malicious way — or information like bank account or credit card numbers that could be used for financial fraud.
Under the expanded policy, users can also request for the removal of additional information that may pose a risk for identity theft — such as confidential log-in credentials — when it appears in search results.
“The availability of personal contact information online can be jarring — and it can be used in harmful ways, including for unwanted direct contact or even physical harm. And people have given us feedback that they would like the ability to remove this type of information from Search in some cases,” Google Search global policy lead Michelle Chang wrote in a post.
Chang said when a Google Search removal request is submitted, Google evaluates all the content on the web page. Following the evaluation, Google may remove the provided URL from all search queries; remove the search results in which the query includes a person’s name or other provided identifiers, such as aliases; or in some circumstances deny the request.
“We will evaluate all content on the web page to ensure that we’re not limiting the availability of other information that is broadly useful, for instance in news articles,” Chang said.
“We’ll also evaluate if the content appears as part of the public record on the sites of government or official sources. In such cases, we won’t make removals.”
Google warned, however, that removing content from Google Search does not remove it from the internet, and recommended that people contact the hosting site directly if that is what they want it removed entirely.
This latest update follows on from Google rolling out a new policy last October to enable people under the age of 18, or their parents or guardian, to request the removal of their images from Google search results.