Google has just started accepting applications to have personal information such as phone numbers and physical and email addresses removed from search results.
The Mountain View digital-advertising and internet-search giant said in a recent blog post that it has broadened the scope of data people can ask to have taken down, because “with information popping up in unexpected places and being used in new ways … our policies and protections need to evolve.”
Previously, to consider removal of phone numbers and addresses, Google would require a person to show that such information was revealed alongside a threat or a call for the person to be hurt or harmed.
To apply to have information removed, people must use Google’s online form to send in URLs — webpage addresses — showing the content, and the company also asks for a URL of the search results showing the link to the content, plus screenshots of the content, to facilitate processing the request.
“The availability of personal contact information online can be jarring — and it can be used in harmful ways, including for unwanted direct contact or even physical harm,” Michelle Chang, Google’s global policy lead for Search, said in the blog post.
The company will deny requests if its review determines that taking down the page would limit availability of other information that is newsworthy or otherwise “broadly useful” to the public, or if the information appears in the public record on government or official websites, Google said .