Back in May, I wrote about how Google added an option for users to opt-out of their private information being shown in search results. Recently, the company added a new feature to bolster this policy that allows users to request excluding search results featuring their phone numbers and other sensitive personal information, potentially adding an extra layer of protection.
With the “Results about you” feature, users can ask for pages that include their home addresses, emails and personal phone numbers to be removed from Google’s search results.
However, as with their earlier announcement, this only amounts to a half-measure in enhancing the public’s privacy and security. While Google may choose to remove a page from its search results, the personal information it contains will still be accessible online.
Why Is Google Suddenly Concerned About User Privacy?
Spurred by GDPR and California Privacy legislation, Google has been under increased pressure to police the publication of private information on its search engine.
A successful lawsuit in the European Union resulted in the establishment of a “right to be forgotten” online. Since then, Google has received more than 650,000 requests from individuals throughout Europe to remove their personal information. The company’s new privacy update is an attempt to provide a consistent policy everywhere.
Why You Are Still Not Protected
Here are just some of the reasons this new policy will not keep your address and phone number off the Internet.
- The policy covers only non-public information, so your personal information from homeownership, the DMV, bankruptcies, etc. will still be accessible.
- Your personal information will still be accessible from other search engines, as well as on paid sites, social media sites, and other sources.
- While Google may mask your private information, it will not remove it. Someone searching for your address on a people-finder site such as Spokeo will still be able to access it there. All the Google policy eliminates is the display of your address in its search results.
Should I Sign Up Anyway?
You could – but be warned that the registration process is not without some effort. You have to find your information, copy the URL, collect a screenshot of the information, and submit it for each instance found. It will take a few minutes to do each request, and you have to continually monitor Google to find new information.
Why We’re Better
We automatically complete the program registration for Google’s new policy and monitor their search for each client. Plus, our IronWall360 privacy team uses our proprietary software to search and remove not just search results, but the underlying information located on websites – including public information not covered by the Google program.
When we find content that should be removed, we don’t just send a letter or an email to the website and hope for the best – we follow up as often as it takes to get that content taken down, even if that means contacting the Attorney General’s office. One way or another, we always get results.