At Google, what is your phone number? Search engine giant accepts takedown requests

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Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., has begun reviewing requests to remove search results that include people’s home addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, marking the company’s latest change in its approach to personal privacy and access to information. The world’s most popular Internet search engine announced on Wednesday that it is expanding its removal procedures globally in response to growing user demand and the development of standards on the dangers of easy access to contact information.

It has received tens of thousands of requests per year in recent years, approving about 13% of them. Chang said she expected the approval rating to increase under the expanded rules, which also allow links to confidential login credentials to be removed. Google’s old policies allowed for requests to remove results that referred to unwanted pornography and, in Europe, “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive” personal information. Last year, Google began allowing photos of minors to be deleted.

“Research told us that there is a greater amount of personally identifiable information that users consider sensitive,” said Michelle Chang, head of global policy for Google Search, in an exclusive interview. “They are less and less willing to tolerate this content online.” Until now, Google only accepted removal requests from web pages that shared contact information with some sort of threat or required payment for removal. It also removed links to bank account and credit card numbers and medical records.

Chang said that in weighing requests under the contact information policy, Google would aim to preserve the availability of data in the public interest. It also won’t remove information that “appears as part of the public record on government sites or official sources.” The company said it usually processes requests within days. Google Drops webpages can still be accessed through other search engines or directly, and Chang said users are encouraged to contact publishers to get “the root of the problem” solved.

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  • At Google, what is your phone number? Search engine giant accepts takedown requests
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