Google has allowed people to request removals of additional types of information from its Search results, including personal contact information like a phone number, email address, or physical address. Google Search currently allows people to request the removal of certain content, with a focus on sensitive content that can cause direct harm to them.
"Under the 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," Michelle Chang, Global Policy Lead for Search at Google, said in a statement late on Wednesday.
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. "It's important to remember that removing content from Google Search won't remove it from the internet, which is why you may wish to contact the hosting site directly," the company informed.
People have been asking Google to remove certain sensitive, personally identifiable information from Search in cases of doxxing, or information like bank account or credit card numbers that could be used for financial fraud. "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," said Google.
Google said that when it receives removal requests, it will evaluate all content on the web page to ensure that it is not limiting the availability of other information that is broadly useful, for instance in news articles. "We'll also evaluate if the content appears as part of the public record on the sites of government or official sources. In such cases, we won't make removals," the company noted.