Google Rethinks Removal Policy

John Lister's picture

Google is making it easier for people to remove web pages with their personal contact details from search results. It won't remove them from web pages, but may make it less likely people will come across them.

The policy makes information less visible in two ways. Firstly, it stops it appearing on the search results page through the extracts from the relevant pages. Secondly, it may make it less likely the page that hosts the content will appear in a search result.

While Google is legally required to remove some personal information from search results under European privacy laws, it goes a step further with its own policies. For example, it's already possible to ask it to remove any financial account numbers that could help fraudsters. The company will also remove personal information from "doxxing" where somebody's identity or contact details is maliciously leaked, often to encourage harassment.

Contact Info Could Be Removed

Now Google is expanding the voluntary policy and will consider requests to remove pages from its search database if they include "personal contact information like a phone number, email address, or physical address." (Source:

It will also consider removing entries that contain details such as log-in credentials that could aid identity theft.

Google says it will consider each request individually. It says it may keep the page in its database if its overall usefulness outweighs the risk to the individual, for example if it's a news article.

It will also reject requests to remove pages that are "part of the public record", for example a government database or official documents.

Child Images Controlled

The move follows a recent change that lets under 18s (or their parents or guardians) ask Google to remove any images of the child. Again, this doesn't remove the image from the website on which it originally appears, but does mean it won't show up in Google Image Search results as a thumbnail or link. (Source:

In both cases, Google suggests also contacting the websites where the information appears and asking for it to be taken down. That's not always effective, particularly where the website in questions is operating in a malicious or unlawful way.

What's Your Opinion?

Is this a good move by Google? Has it found the right balance of which pages to remove from its search database? How much difference does Google's search database make if the page itself is still online?

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (3 votes)