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Google Will Now Enable Users to Request Removals for Search Results That Contain Personal Information



Google Will Now Enable Users to Request Removals for Search Results That Contain Personal Information

Google’s expanding its appeals process for the removal of search listings that include personal information, with users now able to request search index search omissions for web pages that list their address and contact info, among other potential identifiers.

As explained by Google:

Under this new policy expansion, people can now request removals of additional types of information when they find it in Search results, including personal contact information like a phone number, email address, or physical address. The policy also allows for the removal of additional information that may pose a risk for identity theft, such as confidential log-in credentials, when it appears in Search results.”

That could have a range of implications, for a range of sites, with some social networks potentially having to reassess their listings to ensure they comply with these new regulations.

Though they only become enforceable when raised by an individual, which means that there’s likely not a great deal of updates that would need to be implemented. But it could see some web pages removed from Google’s index if a case is brought to the search giant requesting action on such.

Google has long provided the capacity to request censorship of certain search listings, under certain criteria.

“On Google Search, we have a set of policies that allow people to request the removal of certain content from Search, with a focus on highly personal content that, if public, can cause direct harm to people.”


That process was introduced in response to Europe’s ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ legislation, which was implemented by the EU back in 2014, and gives individuals the legal right to ask search engines like Google to delist certain results for queries related to a person’s name.

As per Google:

“In deciding what to delist, search engines must consider if the information in question is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive,” and whether there is a public interest in the information remaining available in search results.”

So if there are particularly damaging search results about you showing up, maybe a past legal case or a defamatory post, which could harm your personal or professional standing, you can request that it be removed, and Google will assess your submission against its de-listing criteria.

This was expanded further in 2018, when the EU implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which includes a section that gives internet users a ‘right to erasure’, providing more control over harmful internet listings.

And now, it’s being expanded again:

When we receive removal requests, we will evaluate all content on the web page to ensure that we’re not limiting the availability of other information that is broadly useful, for instance in news articles. We’ll also evaluate if the content appears as part of the public record on the sites of government or official sources. In such cases, we won’t make removals. It’s important to remember that removing content from Google Search won’t remove it from the internet, which is why you may wish to contact the hosting site directly, if you’re comfortable doing so.”

That is an important element – hiding search results doesn’t erase the info from the web. While Google may be the biggest search engine, and a key point of discovery in many cases, people will still be able to find the original info, if they go looking.


It’s the latest step in Google’s gradually expanding data protection clauses, which also include its moves to phase out cookie tracking, and its more recent update to list how developers track and use data within Play Store listings.

Google also recently implemented a new policy which enables people under the age of 18 (or their parent or guardian) to request the removal of their images from Google Search results.

In combination, Google is giving users a lot more control over their online info – maybe not voluntarily, as there’s increasing pressure from officials (particularly in the EU) to implement more measures on this front. But its policies are evolving, in line with rising user expectation, and broader regulatory trends.

The implications, as noted, remain limited, as not many individuals are putting forward removal claims, but it is worth noting that this is now possible, and that some pages which display many people’s names or info could be impacted as a result.

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Iran pop singer silenced, but his song remains a protest anthem



Shervin Hajipour's song "Baraye" draws on the tweets of Iranians longing for a normal life

Shervin Hajipour’s song “Baraye” draws on the tweets of Iranians longing for a normal life – Copyright Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)/AFP –

David Vujanovic

Even though he has been silenced, Iranian pop singer Shirvin Hajipour’s impassioned song in support of protests over Mahsa Amini’s death in custody remains an unofficial anthem of the movement.

The song “Baraye” notched up 40 million views on Instagram before it was deleted when Hajipour was arrested, but he has since been freed on bail and has distanced himself from politics, likely as a condition for his release.

Baraye, the Persian word “For” or “Because”, is composed of tweets about the protests and highlights longings people have for things lacking in sanctions-hit Iran, where many complain of hardship caused by economic mismanagement.

It also draws on everyday activities that have landed people in trouble with the authorities in the Islamic republic.

“For the sake of dancing in the streets; Because of the fear felt while kissing; For my sister, your sister, your sisters,” the song’s lyrics say.


“Because of the embarrassment of an empty pocket; Because we are longing for a normal life… Because of this polluted air.”

Baraye has been heard played loudly at night from apartment blocks in Iran to show support for protests sparked by Amini’s death on September 16, after the notorious morality police arrested her for allegedly breaching rules requiring women to wear hijab headscarves and modest clothes.

It was also sung with gusto by the Iranian diaspora at rallies in more than 150 cities around the world at the weekend.

In one clip shared by the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran, a group of schoolgirls without headscarves is seen singing Baraye in class with their backs to the camera.

The tune was removed from Hajipour’s Instagram account shortly after his arrest but is still widely available on other social media platforms, including Twitter and YouTube.

– ‘Because of forced Instagram stories’ –

Hajipour’s lawyer Majid Kaveh said he was released on bail at noon on Tuesday.

The reformist Shargh newspaper said his family had been informed of his arrest in the northern city of Sari on Saturday, in a report that cited his sister Kamand Hajipour.


She had said in an Instagram post that her parents had been informed of his arrest in a call from the city’s intelligence ministry offices.

Shortly after his release, Hajipour was back on Instagram, but this time to apologise and distance himself from politics.

“I’m here to say I’m okay,” he told his 1.9 million followers on the platform.

“But I’m sorry that some particular movements based outside of Iran — which I have had no relations with — made some improper political uses of this song.

“I would not swap this (country) for anywhere else and I will stay for my homeland, my flag, my people, and I will sing.

“I don’t want to be a plaything for those who do not think of me, you or this country,” he added.

In response to his post, many on Twitter suggested the line “Because of forced Instagram stories” should be added to the lyrics of the song.

Human rights groups including Article 19 have repeatedly called on Iran to end its use of forced confessions, which they say are false and extracted under duress or even torture.


In one recent case, a young Iranian woman, Sepideh Rashno, disappeared after becoming involved in a dispute on a Tehran bus with another woman who accused her of removing her headscarf.

She was held by the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and appeared on television in what activists said was a forced confession before being released on bail in late August.

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