May 10, 2022 – Google has expanded the types of personal information which users can request to be removed from its search engine in a bid to protect people from “unwanted direct or physical harm.”
You will now be able to request the removal of your personal contact information, including phone numbers, email addresses or residential information. Previously, Google’s policy only covered confidential personal data such as banking or credit card details that would let scammers steal a user’s identity or money.
The expansion in Google’s protection policy reportedly comes in the wake of increasing online frauds. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers were swindled out of a staggering $5.8 billion last year, a 70% surge from 2020.
“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,” says Michelle Chang, global policy lead for search at Google.
You can request Google to remove your phone number or other personal information here. Google will ask you to provide the website addresses with your information that you want removed. After submitting the URLs, which can be up to 1000, you will receive a confirmation email. If your request is missing the URL, you will be asked to submit it again.
Google will inform you if it takes action on your request. It could either remove site addresses from all search results or specific ones with your name and personal information. If the information is part of public records, Google will not remove it from its search queries. However, having your personal information removed from Google will not ensure that it has been removed from the internet.
Google states that removing this information can help prevent doxxing (release of identifying documents online with malicious intent to encourage harassment). The company also added that it recently introduced a new policy allowing teens and children under the age of 18, their parents or guardians to request removal of their images from Google’s search results as well.