The presence of your personal information online represents a potential security risk.While some of this information may seem harmless, it can cause a lot of problems if it falls into the wrong hands.Your responsibility is to ensure that no one has access to your sensitive personal information.
In order to obtain your personal information, malicious people usually start with a simple Google search.How do you make sure Google doesn't show up when people search for your personal information?Let's take a look together:
Why do you need to worry?
Phone numbers, email addresses, or possibly home addresses in Google search results don't seem worrisome.Because you've probably given this information to dozens of people willingly.So why should you worry that more people will find it online?
You are likely to only give your personal information to one close group - family, friends, colleagues or business associates.When you provide this closed group with your personal information, you trust them with good intentions.
However, when your personal information appears in a public space like the internet, the whole dynamic changes.You lose control over who gets access to this information and for what purpose.
A malicious person can find this information and may use it to defraud others.Also, by collecting images of your driver's license or social security number online, scammers can easily impersonate you and commit fraud in your name.
In addition to identity theft, your information may also be used to incite people against you online.Sharing your physical address or contact details with allegations of wrongdoing can prompt people to harass or physically harm you.
There is a long list of things that can go wrong.Fortunately, there is something you can do about it.Since Google searches are one of the most effective ways to find information about people online, keeping your information away from it is a good start.
How to request removal of your information from Google search results
If you Google your name or any other search term and come up with sensitive information about you, Google has ways to help you get rid of that information.
To get started, go to Google for help.You'll find a form with questions about your request to have your data removed from search results.However, this form is a little tricky.
Depending on your answers to the original question, you may be given a form to complete the information removal process, or be redirected to another page.To make sure everything goes smoothly, you need to answer these questions:
1. For the first question (What do you want to do?), select "Delete information you see in Google Search".
2. For the second question (let us know where you see the information you want removed), select "On Google's search results and websites".Only take this option if you click on a search result and find the information you want to delete on an active site.
3. For the third question (Have you contacted the site owner of the site?), if you have not contacted the administrator of the site where the information is located to request the information be taken down, please select "No, I would rather not this way".
4. From here, choose the type of personal information you want Google to remove from its search results pages.A new form should appear.Provide all requested information and click the submit button.Here's a guide on how to request removal of underage images, if that's what you're thinking.
After submitting your request, you should receive a confirmation email.Google will evaluate requests using a range of criteria, including those listed below.It may also ask you to provide more information if needed.If the request meets their requirements, you will be notified when action is taken.
But what are the requirements for your request to be approved?
What kind of information can you request to be deleted?
While Google may accept your request to delete a large amount of personally identifiable information, ideally this information should be:
1. An image of your identification document, such as a driver's license.
2. An image of your handwritten signature.
3. Images of minors.
4. Sexual photos of you shared without your consent.
5. Bank account and credit card details.
6. A confidential government-issued identification number, such as your Social Security Number (SSN).
7. Personal or official records, such as your medical records.
8. Login credentials.
From April 2022, you can also request the removal of personal contact information such as your phone number, email address and physical address.
However, even if your request meets all of the above requirements, Google may still deny your request if the information you are removing meets the following conditions:
1. In the public interest (for example, if you want to delete information related to your past professional misconduct, you may be denied).
2. Newsworthy (eg, a news article containing your personal information).
3. Provided by a government or other official source (eg, FBI).
What happens when your takedown request is approved?
Since Google Search is just a search engine, Google will only be able to delete the copy of this information they have cached, or simply prevent it from appearing in search results.Original copies may remain on the website where they were posted.
However, if the posting site is hosted by Google's blogging platform (Blogger), you can use Blogger's Content Policy Violation tool to get the content removed.If a webmaster keeps repeating similar breaches after it was initially taken down, Google could take down the entire blog or suspend the owner's Google account.
If you want to delete personal information hosted directly on any of Google's products, you can use the wider range of Google's troubleshooting tools.
Share your personal information discreetly
The best way to protect your personal information online is to make sure it doesn't end up there in the first place.Whenever it is necessary to share your personal information, do so as little as possible.
As an alternative to your email address, you can use a temporary email address from a provider such as temp-mail.org.You can also share a one-time phone number only with sites that require a phone number.
No matter how big or secure you think a website is, be careful when sharing sensitive information.Data breaches happen frequently, and your sensitive information can be exposed at any time.
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