Google will now let anyone request the removal of personal information such as phone number, email address, and mailing address from the Search results. In a blog post, Google’s global policy lead for Search, Michelle Chang, said it is updating its privacy policies to give users control over “highly personal content” that, if public, could cause direct harm to them.
“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,” said Chang.
How will Google remove your personal information?
According to Google, when you request the removal of a piece of information, the company will evaluate and check all content on the web page of Search results to ensure that the availability of other information that “is broadly useful” is not limited. If your contact information appears on public websites, such as government websites, Google will also take that into account and not remove your personal information.
Will your information be entirely deleted?
No. Google said that even though it may accept requests for content removal and subsequently delete personal information, the same information — or a part of it — will not vanish from the internet. Google Search fetches information from several internet sources, so when you request removal, the search engine will not store your personal information anymore, but the source from which your information came will still have it intact. You will need to ask the hosting site directly to remove the content from the internet entirely.
Even if the hosting website removes the content, there is no guarantee your information will entirely disappear from the web. Just like Google, there are other search engines that source information from similar hosts. Many of these engines still do not let users request the removal of content, so getting your information removed from Google Search does not mean it is removed from other websites, as well.
Google already has a policy under which people below 18 years of age can request the removal of their images from Google Search results. “We’re always looking for new ways to ensure our policies and built-in safeguards reflect peoples’ evolving needs and are easy to use,” said Chang.