The change heightens concerns about the relationship between online privacy and real-life security. This months stalker forum was Kiwi Farms downloaded after forum members stalked women and self-identified LGBTQ people for years, often posting their physical addresses and phone numbers. There are also victims of domestic violence at risk when their personal information appears online. Some jurisdictions, including the European Union, have enacted a “right to be forgotten,” which gives people the right to request that their personal information be removed from company databases or the Internet, but the United States has not. .
Google says that in addition to requesting that search results be removed, starting next year people can sign up for alerts if their personal information appears in new results.
“While removing these results does not remove your contact information from the web at large, we do everything we can to protect your information at Google Search,” said Danny Sullivan, Google’s public liaison for search.
How to request removal of a result: In the Google app or Chrome browser, tap or click the three dots next to a search result. A window titled “About this result” should open. Scroll down and select the “clear result” button. Google says it will take a few days for your request to be processed after you fill out the removal form. You can check the status by tapping on the profile icon in the upper right corner and selecting “results about you”.
Alejandra Caraballo, an instructor at Harvard Law School’s Cyberlaw Clinic, says mass data collection by companies and the government makes it increasingly difficult for targets of harassment or abuse to keep personal information off the Internet. Even if people remove their personal data from search results, it is likely to be obtained from data brokers, companies that collect and sell large amounts of personal data.
“This [Google tool] it’s still in its early stages and it remains to be seen how effective it is,” Caraballo said. “Much of this data is still available through data brokers, and the free sharing of people’s personal data in bulk is something that federal regulators should consider.”
Deleting your data from data broker sites either takes time to submit dozens of data deletion requests or costs money to pay a third-party service like DeleteMe to do it for you. So while Google’s new tool won’t solve online stalking, it gives people a valuable free tool, said Nina Jankowicz, vice president of the Anti-Disinformation Center for Information Resilience.
Not all anti-rape advocates celebrate the tool’s design. Open source software developer Coraline Ehmke questioned Google’s approach. Why does the burden to protect against online harassment almost always fall on individuals, he asked. How will Google determine the validity of removal requests? And why do users have to sign in to a Google account to use the ‘results about you’ feature? Given Google’s expanding advertising business, Ehmke said he would think twice before handing over more personal data to submit a takedown request.
“What should we choose to quit?” he said. “It feels like privacy after the fact.”
” ‘Conclusions About You’ [The feature] It uses both technological improvements and human insight to prevent abuse of the deletion process,” said Google spokesperson Ned Adriance. Google won’t share the data users enter in the takedown request and won’t use it to “customize your experience,” it noted.
According to Jankowicz, the new tool won’t remove your phone number and address from the Internet, but it’s a step in the right direction for privacy.
“In the information environment we’re in, it’s incumbent on all of us to be a little more proactive in managing our online presence,” he said. “It’s great that Google is putting this out there, especially for people who are often victims of abuse, harassment or harassment.”
If the tool doesn’t appear for you yet, or if you’re trying to delete other types of data, such as financial data or medical records, go here. Google form. You can also ask Google to remove revealing photos that are fake, posted without your consent, or appear with your name for no reason.
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