Google is rolling out new ways to remove personally identifiable information from search results such as phone numbers and physical addresses.
This update expands on an existing policy that allows people to request the removal of personally identifiable information that’s sensitive in nature, like bank accounts and credit card numbers.
Now, you can request the removal of any information that may compromise your privacy or put you at risk for identity theft.
Google states in an announcement:
“Under this new policy expansion, people can now request removals of additional types of information when they find it in Search results, including personal contact information like a phone number, email address, or physical address. The policy also allows for the removal of additional information that may pose a risk for identity theft, such as confidential log-in credentials, when it appears in Search results.”
To remove personal information from Google you have to fill out a request form.
In the form you’re asked to provide details about the type of information published, and answer a series of questions about why you want it removed.
Each request is evaluated against a set of criteria listed in the next section. If a request is approved, the URL will be removed from Google’s search index.
Here’s more about the types of personally identifiable information you can request to have removed from Google.
Removing Personally Identifiable Information From Google
From Google’s help document:
“Google may remove personally identifiable information (PII) that has potential to create significant risks of identity theft, financial fraud, harmful direct contact, or other specific harms. This includes doxxing, which is when your contact info is shared in a malicious way.“
You can request removal of the following types of information:
- Confidential government identification (ID) numbers like U.S. Social Security Number
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Images of handwritten signatures
- Images of ID docs
- Highly personal, restricted, and official records, like medical records
- Personal contact info (physical addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses)
- Confidential login credentials
In addition, you can request the removal of contact information if it appears alongside threats to your personal safety.
Google will only deny requests when personally identifiable information appears on a page that’s considered broadly useful, such as a news article.
Content that appears as part of the public record on government websites will not be removed either.
To begin a removal request you must fill out and submit a form to Google. Be prepared, as the form asks you to provide many details.
Google will then review the request and notify you of the action it decided to take.
It’s important to keep in mind content will still exist on the web even when it’s removed from Google.
If someone has the URL they can always visit it directly in a web browser or share it on social media.
Google’s ability to remove content is limited to search results only.
Source: Google and SEJ