People can now ask Google to remove search results that show their home addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses from the web. This is the company’s most recent change in its policy on personal privacy and access to information.
Users have been getting more and more concerned about the dangers of easy access to their contact information, so Google said on Wednesday that it would expand its removal policies around the world because of that.
Michelle Chang, the global policy lead for Google search, said that research had shown more personal information that users think is important in an interview. “They don’t want to see this content on the internet anymore.”
When Google first started taking down pages, they only took down pages with contact information with a threat or required payment to remove them. A link to bank account, credit card numbers, and medical records has been taken.
It got tens of thousands of requests a year in the last few years, and only about 13% were approved. Chang said that under the new rules, which also allow for the removal of links to confidential log-in credentials, she thought the number of people who agreed with her would rise.
Older Google policies let people ask for results that lead to pornography to be removed and for “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive” personal information to be removed. Last year, Google started letting people remove photos of minors from its site.
Chang said that when Google looked at requests under its contact information policy, it would try to keep data available to the public. Government and official sources websites won’t be able to remove information that is “out there for all to see.”
The company said it usually takes a few days to process requests.
Webpages Google drops can still be found through other search engines or directly, and Chang says users should contact publishers to get to the “root of the problem.” This is what people should do.