Most of us have searched for random people online whether it be a friend, classmate, co-worker, dating partner, neighbor, or complete stranger.
These days, one can learn a lot about someone from one free, simple search. We can sometimes find a person’s date of birth, address, home value, contact information, address history, age, birthday, family member details, maiden name, profession, employer, and more.
With so much sensitive information so accessible, anyone could easily become a victim of fraud, stalking, or even violence.
Our private information is on the internet without our consent. But, all of that is about to change. Google recently revealed that starting on April 27th individuals will have the ability to ask for the removal of personal information from Search results.
“Open access to information is a key goal of Search, but so is empowering people with the tools they need to protect themselves and keep their sensitive, personally identifiable information private. That’s why we’re updating our policies to help people take more control of their online presence in Search,” Michelle Chang, Google’s Global Policy Lead for Search, announced on the company’s blog.
“[T]he internet is always evolving—with information popping up in unexpected places and being used in new ways—so our policies and protections need to evolve, too,” Chang continued.
But there is a downside… Google’s new policy won’t completely solve the privacy problem.
“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, if you’re comfortable doing so,” Chang said.
So, even with our information removed from the search engine, it’ll still be imperative to protect ourselves and stay alert to any suspicious activity because that data will still be accessible via websites to people who’ll the extra mile to gather your personal information.
Google can’t fix the problem but is making the process of online stalking a bit more difficult.
Do you have any personal information that displays prominently in Google Search that you’d like to have removed? Visit the topic’s support page, scroll down, and click the “Start removal request” link.
After your request is submitted, you should receive an email from Google confirming the request was received. It’s unclear how long the removal process will take.
Google has made some important changes to its policies in light of the recent surge in online fraud. Recent reports from the Federal Trade Commission show that consumers lost over $5.8 billion due to scammers in 2021 – a shocking rise of 70% from the prior year.