RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) – These days it’s hard to imagine life without the internet because it has become so intertwined with our daily lives on so many levels.
However, this use of the internet has a price: our personal data. Our private information is available and collected by everyone.
Now there is a way to prevent access to some of this personally identifiable data through Google searches.
A lot of people feel there is a lack of control over our personal data, and they worry about how it is used and who is using it.
As one of the big technology companies that uses and collects our data, Google offers to remove your personal data from its search results to help protect your privacy, but it’s not a sure thing.
According to a investigation According to the DataProt website, 86% of us have tried to eliminate or reduce our online digital footprint at some point.
Raleigh resident Tony Everett is among those concerned about data collection on the Internet.
“I am extremely worried,” he said. “I think we are all at risk of our information being leaked.”
When this information is released on the dark web, criminals will sell it.
Security experts have found that social security numbers cost just $1 a piece, while driver’s license information can be obtained on the dark web for $20 each.
If your medical history is stolen, scammers on the internet can take that information and sell it for over $1,000 to any hacker who wants it.
Consumer researcher Steve Sbraccia asked Raleigh resident Maggie Agnew if she would be interested in a way to prevent her private data from being included in web searches.
“It depends on how tedious it would be, how long it would take,” she said.
Google now offers a five-step process which allows you to request it to allow you to remove a lot of sensitive information from searches on its platforms.
“I don’t use Google products because they’re notorious for taking your data,” said internet user Reed Elliot. “I use products like Duckduckgo and Mozilla Firefox.”
Google says that when you submit the data deletion request, it will evaluate it to see if you qualify the searches.
Among the items that Google will remove:
- Social security numbers
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Images of handwritten signatures
- Images of identity documents
- Highly personal, restricted, and official records, such as medical records
- Personal contact details such as addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses
- Confidential login credentials
But not everyone thinks removing data from search engines will do any good.
“I used to work in IT and nothing is anonymous,” said John Sneed. “They have all our information. Anyone can get what they want all the time.
Even if Google approves your request to remove personal data from its searches, there are still other search engines like BING, Yahoo, Ask dot Com and Excite and they can still access this information.