With concerns over privacy and internet-based harassment growing, Google this week announced a way to remove physical addresses, personal phone numbers, and email addresses from its search results. Google said it was motivated to make the change so users can be protected from “unwanted direct contact or even physical harm.”
Before, the company allowed users to request only confidential personal data to be removed, including Social Security and bank account numbers, images of personal signatures, and medical records.
“The internet is always evolving—with information popping up in unexpected places and being used in new ways—so our policies and protections need to evolve too,” Michelle Change, global policy lead for search at Google, wrote in a blog post.
To request that your information be removed from Google searches, follow these steps:
· Provide the website address that includes the information you want removed from Google’s search results.
· Wait for confirmation. You will receive an automated response confirming your request.
Google will review requests and may ask for additional information. It may then decide to remove site addresses from all search queries or from specific queries that include your name or other personal data.
Also, even when this information is removed from search results, it may not be removed from the site itself or from other internet sites, just not be shown among Google’s search results. Further, portions of public records, such as government files, won’t be removed from search results upon request. Users may need to contact a hosting site directly to ask for certain information to be removed.