Monday, Oct 03, 2022
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Google adds ways to keep personal info private in searches

Google has expanded options for keeping personal information private from online searches. The company said Friday it would let people request that more types of content such as personal contact information like phone numbers, email, and physical addresses be removed from search results.

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The new policy also allows the removal of other information that may risk identity theft, such as confidential log-in credentials. The company said in a statement that open access to information is vital, “but so is empowering people with the tools they need to protect themselves and keep their sensitive, personally identifiable information private.” “Privacy and online safety go hand in hand. And when you're using the internet, it's important to control how your sensitive, personally identifiable information can be found," it said.

Earlier, Google Search permitted people to request that highly unique content that could cause direct harm to be removed. That includes information removed from doxxing and personal details like bank accounts or credit card numbers that could be used for fraud. But information increasing pops up in unexpected places and is used in new ways, so policies need to evolve, the company said. Having personal contact information openly available online also can pose a threat, and Google said it had received requests for the option to remove that content, too.

When it receives such requests, it will study all the content on the web page to avoid limiting the availability of helpful information or content on the public record on government or other official websites. “It's important to remember that removing content from Google Search won't remove it from the internet, so you may wish to contact the hosting site directly if you're comfortable doing so," it said.

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