Google is expanding what content you can request the removal of in Search to more types of personally identifiable information as part of a policy update. This now covers phone numbers, email addresses, or physical addresses.

For many years, people have been able to request the removal of certain sensitive, personally identifiable information from Search — for example, in cases of doxxing, or information like bank account or credit card numbers that could be used for financial fraud.

Personally identifiable information covers the following:

  • Confidential government identification (ID) numbers like U.S. Social Security Number, Argentine Single Tax Identification Number, Brazil Cadastro de pessoas Físicas, Korea Resident Registration Number, China Resident Identity Card, etc.
  • Bank account numbers
  • Credit card numbers
  • Images of handwritten signatures
  • Images of ID docs
  • Highly personal, restricted, and official records, like medical records
  • Personal contact info (physical addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses)
  • Confidential login credentials

It’s also meant to allow for the “removal of additional information that may pose a risk for identity theft,” like account logins. 

The availability of personal contact information online can be jarring — and it can be used in harmful ways, including for unwanted direct contact or even physical harm. And people have given us feedback that they would like the ability to remove this type of information from Search in some cases.

If a personal information request is approved by Google, there are two outcomes depending on the situation:

  1. The URL will not appear for any Search query. This is typical for content related to confidential IDs, bank accounts, credit card numbers, and similar information.
  2. The URL will not appear for a search query that contains your name, or other such identifier. This can happen when the policy violating information on a page is accompanied by content that is of public interest or has content about other individuals.

The company offers a full guide on how to “Remove select personally identifiable info (PII) or doxxing content from Google Search” and you can start the removal request from that support article.

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About the Author

Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: abner@9to5g.com