The Google The company said this week that it is expanding the types of data people can request to be removed from search results to include personal contact information such as your phone number, email address or physical address. The change comes just months after Google rolled out a new policy that allows people under the age of 18 (or parents/guardians) to request that their images be removed from Google search results.
For years, Google has accepted requests to remove some sensitive data, such as bank account numbers or credit card numbers, from search results. In a Wednesday blog post, Google Michelle Chang He wrote that the company’s expanded policy now allows additional information that could pose an identity theft risk, such as sensitive login credentials, email addresses and phone numbers, to be removed when it appears in search results.
“When we receive takedown requests, we will review all content of web pages to ensure that we do not limit the broad availability of other useful information, for example in news articles,” Zhang wrote. We will also evaluate whether content appears as part of the public record on government or official resource sites. In these cases, we will not carry out the removals.”
Google says that a request for removal will be considered if the search result in question contains “explicit or implicit threats” or “express or implied calls for action to harm or harass others.” The company says that if it approves your request, it can respond by removing the URLs provided for all inquiries or just queries that include your name.
While Google removing a search result from its index does nothing to remove the offending content from the site that hosts it, having a separate link from Google’s search results will make the content of that link less visible. According to recent estimates, Google has a market share of nearly 90% of search engine usage.
KrebsOnSecurity decided to test this extended policy with what appeared to be a nonsensical request: it asked Google to remove the search result from Brian’s Club, one of the largest (if not the largest) cybercrime stores for selling stolen payment card data.
The Brians Club has always misused my name and photo to promote their wares on piracy forums. Your home page includes a copy of my credit report, Social Security card, phone bill, and a dummy but official ID.
Briansclub updated their homepage with this information in 2019 after it was widely hacked and a copy of their customer database was shared with this author. The leaked data – which included 26 million credit and debit card records taken from online retailers and hackers – ended up being shared by dozens of financial institutions.
crush He writes that the policy expansion comes six months after Google began allowing those under 18 or their parents to remove their images from search results. To do this, users need to specify that they want Google to remove “Photos of an individual under the age of 18 at the present time” and provide certain personal information, image URLs, and search queries that may return results. Google also allows you to submit requests to remove obscene or intimate non-consensual personal photos from Google, along with unintentional fake pornography and TechCrunch notes.
This post will be updated if Google responds in one way or another, but it may take some time: Google’s autoresponder said: “Due to the precautionary measures taken by our support professionals in light of COVID-19, it may take longer and it is normal for us to respond to your support request. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and will get back to you as soon as possible.”