According to an article by The Verge, Google says it’s expanding the types of personal information that it will remove from search results to protect things like your physical address, phone number, and passwords. Before this change was made, it really only covered info that would let someone steal your identity or money. Now you can ask Google to stop showing certain URLs that point to information that could lead someone to your house or give them access to your accounts.
Here’s a list of what kinds of info Google may remove:
- Confidential government identification (ID) numbers like U.S. Social Security Number, Argentine Single Tax Identification Number, etc.
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Images of handwritten signatures
- Images of ID documents
- Highly personal, restricted, and official records, like medical records
- Personal contact info (physical addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses)
- Confidential login credentials
Google already had policies in place that let people remove personal information that had been shared maliciously, an act commonly known as doxxing. This policy change, however, requires less of a judgment call. Instead of a Google employee having to look at the links submitted and somehow determine whether they’d cause harm, now Google will just have to decide whether the info is of public interest. According to its FAQ, that person will determine whether the info in the link is “newsworthy,” “professionally-relevant,” or if it came from a government; all things that could be far easier to decide than trying to figure out why a phone number was posted.
What do you think about this change? Is Google doing the right thing?