Google has announced an update to search that aims to make it easier to remove identity information (physical addresses, phone numbers, emails, etc.) that appears in results without consent.
“The availability of personal contact information online can be shocking – and it can be used in harmful ways, including for unwanted direct contact or even physical harm,” the company said. “And people have given us feedback that they would like to be able to remove that kind of information from search in some cases.”
The new features are an extension of Google’s longstanding right to be forgotten policies, encouraged by the EU, which allow information (such as criminal convictions) to be deleted in certain circumstances.
If someone is involved in an incident that makes the news, say as a teenager, that story can follow them for the rest of their life when someone googles them.
In some respects, Google’s latest changes relate to clearer situations, such as when personally identifiable information is published by a third party without consent.
Google also recently rolled out a policy allowing people under 18 to remove images from Google search results.
A difficult situation
Cataloging the entire web is, without a doubt, a valuable service. There is a reason why Google is one of the essential services in the daily life of Internet users.
However, while the SEO industry has attempted to make research a science, the scale of the Google search operation means that misinformation will sometimes be provided, which is certainly the case with unauthorized personal information. .
Google’s changes are undoubtedly a positive step in helping people regain some level of privacy.
“Maximizing access to information while allowing people to control their sensitive and personally identifiable information is a critical balance to strike,” Google said. “We believe these updates are an important step in achieving that goal and giving users the tools they need to protect their security and privacy online.”