How to remove your phone number or address from Google search results

With a simple google search, strangers can dig your phone number, physical address, or other personal information. You may not want this floating around on the Internet – otherwise, its presence could put you at risk.

Now, Google claims to make it easier to request information to be removed from search results. In the next two weeks, a new shortcut that Google unveiled in May will appear in its app and next to the search results in the United States. Previously, you could request the deletion of this type of information via this form.

Change comes as concerns about the link between online privacy and real-life security increase. This month, the Kiwi Farms stalker forum was removed after forum members spent years harassing women and LGBTQ identifiers, frequently posting their physical addresses and phone numbers. Victims of domestic violence are also at risk when their personal information appears online. Some jurisdictions, including the European Union, have adopted the “right to be forgotten” that gives people the right to request that their personal information be deleted from corporate databases or the Internet, but the United States has not adopted such a law.

Google says that in addition to requesting the deletion of search results from the beginning of next year, people may sign up for alerts if their personal information shows up in new results.

“While deleting these results does not remove your contact information from the network, we are doing everything we can to protect your information on Google Search,” said Danny Sullivan, Google’s public search liaison officer.

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Here’s how to request that a result be deleted: 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 appear. Scroll down and select the “delete result” button. Google says that after filling out the deletion form, your request will take several days. You can check your status by tapping your profile icon in the top right corner and selecting “results about you”.

Massive data collection by companies and the government is making it increasingly difficult for victims of harassment or abuse to keep their personal information offline, says Alejandra Caraballo, an instructor at Harvard Law School’s cyber clinic. Even if people remove their personal information from the search results, you can probably still buy it from data brokers, companies that collect and sell huge amounts of personal information.

“This [Google tool] it is still in the early stages and it remains to be seen how effective it is, ‘said Caraballo. “Much of this information is still available through data brokers, and this kind of freely sharing people’s personal information en masse is something federal regulators need to pay attention to.”

Clearing information from data broker sites requires either time to submit dozens of data deletion requests, or money to pay for a third-party service like DeleteMe to do it for you. So, while Google’s new tool won’t solve online stalking, it does give people a valuable free tool, said Nina Jankowicz, vice president of the Anti-Disinformation Center for Information Resilience.

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Not all anti-bullying advocates celebrate the design of this tool. Coraline Ehmke, developer of open source software, questioned Google’s approach. She asked why the burden of protecting against online harassment almost always falls on individuals. How will Google determine the validity of deletion requests? And why do users need to be signed in to a Google Account to use the “About You” feature? Given Google’s extensive advertising activity, Ehmke said she would think twice before providing more of her personal information to submit a deletion request.

“What do we have to decide to quit?” she said. “You feel privacy after the fact.”

“Results about you” [The feature] it uses both technological improvements and human control to prevent abuse of the deletion process, “said Google spokesman Ned Adriance. It noted that Google will not share the information provided by users in the deletion request and will not use it to “personalize your experience”.

The new tool will not remove your phone number and address from the Internet, but according to Jankowicz, it is a step in the right direction for privacy.

“In the information environment we are in, it is a responsibility of all of us to manage our internet presence a little proactively,” she said. “It’s great that Google is making this available, especially to people who are frequent victims of abuse, stalking or stalking.”

If the tool isn’t available for you yet, or you’re trying to remove other types of information, such as financial information or medical records, go to this Google form. You can also ask Google to remove explicit photos that are false, posted without your consent, or show up next to your name for no reason.

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