Technology

Google now lets you delete search results with personal data – here’s how

It seems that privacy is quite difficult to ensure in the age of the Internet, especially when search engines are involved. But Google is helping out a bit by offering new tools designed to remove search results with personally identifiable information (PII), including contact details.

Google announced this change at Google I/O back in May, and now the new tools have begun to roll out. This means that you can start submitting requests to have your personal information removed from Google search results.

This isn’t the first time Google has given people the option to remove personal data from search results. The most famous example is the EU’s “Right to be forgotten”, which came into force in 2014. Google also has policies that allow people to request the removal of results containing images of minors, sites with exploitative removal methods (sites that require people to pay money directly to them or other agencies to remove content), and various types of pornography – in particular, content posted without consent, fake content, and so on.

These new tools are designed to streamline the entire process and make it easier for Google to request personal information.

According to Google’s support page, these requests remove sensitive government IDs (including social security numbers), bank account numbers, credit card numbers, images of handwritten signatures, images of identification documents, official and limited medical records (such as medical records), confidential logins and personal contact information, such as addresses, phone numbers and email addresses.

Google also says it will “consider” deleting professional contact information when “doxxing” is a concern.

How to Remove Personal Information from Google Search Results

To start the process, you need to go to the Google takedown request form. (will open in a new tab) and filling in the starting information.

Alternatively, Android users can get started by opening the Google app, tapping their profile picture in the top right corner, and selecting the “Results about you” option. While the web form seems to be available to everyone, Google App Forms is still rolling out.

The most important part of this whole process is that you tell Google what information is being removed, whose information it is, as well as links to offending sites and screenshots. This is a very simple step by step process and Google will guide you through everything as you go.

It will take you just a few minutes to figure it out, after which you will receive an automatic confirmation. Google will then review the request, request additional information if necessary, and inform you of any action that has been taken, including an explanation if your request was denied.

Users will also be able to skip a bunch of red tape if they encounter an offensive web page while browsing. Simply tap the three-dot menu at the top right of a result to open the About This Result panel. It now has a Delete Result option which will then guide you through the delete request process. Again, this is still rolling out to everyone and may not appear on desktop or mobile devices for a while.

It’s not clear how long these requests take to process, or how Google decides something isn’t eligible for removal. But streamlining the process is a good thing, especially when personal information is used by attackers on the Internet with greater regularity and efficiency. The last thing you need is your information, which the whole world can find on Google.

This does not prevent websites from posting this information or potentially opting out of removing it. But this greatly complicates the search for people.

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