Google expands its policy on deleting certain private information

Phone number, e-mail, postal address… Internet users can now ask Google to derefer pages containing their personal information

Protecting Google user information

This is a decision that will change a lot of things for Internet users. Google announced this Wednesday, April 27, that it would be possible to request, under certain conditions, the dereferencing of pages containing personal information: from the phone number to the address, including its confidential connection identifiers.

Limiting harassment

“The Internet always continues to evolve – information can appear in unexpected places, with new ways to instrument it – so our protection policy [des utilisateurs] also needs to evolve,” Google Search’s global policy manager Michelle Chang explained in a blog post. The firm’s goal: to limit harassment and doxxing, the practice of tracking down information about a person’s private life and posting it publicly on the Internet.

The American firm had already put in place a set of policies to allow users to request the deletion of some of their information, such as their social security number, or their bank details. For this to happen, the Internet user making the removal request had to be “threatened” or have his or her information used against him or her as part of a harassment campaign. Today, the American firm seems to want to take a step further regarding privacy protection. It is now possible to request the removal of new types of personal information that may appear in Google search results.

Among the information you can now request to be deleted:

  • Confidential government identification (ID) numbers,
  • Bank account numbers,
  • Credit card numbers,
  • Images of handwritten signatures,
  • Images of identity documents,
  • Highly personal, restricted and official records, such as medical records,
  • Personal details (email or postal addresses, telephone numbers),
  • Confidential login credentials.

“When we receive removal requests, we will evaluate all the content on the web page to ensure that we are not limiting the availability of other widely useful information, such as in news articles,” explains Michelle Chang.

How to request removal of personal information from Google search results

Here is the procedure to follow:

  1. Go to the Google help page,
  2. Scroll down until you find the CTA: Start removal request,
  3. Then answer all the questions on the form,
  4. Click on Submit to validate your request.

After submitting your removal request, should receive an automatic confirmation email. Google will review your request (no time limit is given). If your request is granted, “either the URLs will be removed for all queries, or the URLs will be removed only from search results in which the query includes the complainant’s name or other provided identifiers, such as pseudonyms,” Google said.

In case your request does not meet Google’s removal requirements, the firm should explain why. You will also have the opportunity to provide additional documentation in order to submit a new application.

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