Google is no stranger to controversy over the data it takes from its users. The unwritten contract for using the company’s various excellent services is that Google may use your information to provide it to advertisers. With respect to Google search, user information appears in searches on social networks, e-commerce and other sites.
Few users know that they can ask Google to delete certain data about them. This week, Google is expanding the data you can request to delete. Specifically, the company says users can now request deletion of their contact information (email address, physical address, and phone number).
This follows the ability to remove images from an under-18 search. Google has allowed users to request deletion of bank accounts, credit cards, and other sensitive information for years. By expanding to more personal data, the company is giving users more control.
In a blog postGoogle’s Michelle Chang says the new policy protects users against identity theft.
“When we receive removal requests, we evaluate all web page content to ensure that we are not limiting the availability of other widely useful information, for example in news articles.” Chang wrote. “We will also assess whether content appears as part of the public record on government or official source sites. In such cases, we will not perform removals.
There are two things to note about this system. First, Google has no obligation to remove content upon request. Instead, the company assesses the individual situation before making a decision. Second, deletion only works on search. The sites hosting the data will still be active and the information visible to visitors.
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