New feature by Google – is it that easy to manage personal data?March 16, 2023
Starting from September 2022, the people in the USA (soon after all other users globally) can use Google’s new Results About You feature, which aims to provide a simpler way for people to get their sensitive personal information out of Google’s search results, such as physical addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses and this feature shall allow users to opt in to alerts when new personal information related to them appears in search results, enabling users to request removal more quickly.
Even though this type of personal information is not necessarily considered to be spam nor something illegal for it to be removed, the Google liaison explained that there is enough interest of the public to have this kind of possibility and, furthermore Google considers that there is a way that the public concern can be met without impacting the search results in a way that’s not making them less helpful to people.
Also, this new feature Results About You comes in handy when it comes to certain removal policies that Google has already in place related to other different content, since it will inform a user about content that falls under Google’s other policies and direct them to the process to petition its takedown in order to simplify the possible removal process and provide further guidance to users.
In relation to the review mechanism of request submitted via Results About You, Google confirmed that they use variety of human and automated systems in order to process requests quick, within a few days using the review mechanisms that are built into this feature, and in case the request is denied, the tool shall take a user through the feature to provide more information for the purpose of understanding the context of the removal request.
Right to be forgotten vs. Results about you
Right to be forgotten, established on the basis of EU regulations (“RTBF”) reflects the claim of an individual to have certain data deleted so that third persons can no longer trace such data and leads to allowing individuals to have information, videos, or photographs about themselves deleted from certain Internet records so that they cannot be found by search engines.
If we make a comparison between the RTBF and Google’s new tool Results about you, we perceive that the latter works globally (including USA) which is not the case with the RTBF. Also, one does not exclude the other, meaning that there are matters which the feature Results about you will not cover, especially having in mind that it is applied to personal information regarding physical addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Also, a user is entitled to exercise the rights under RTBF, beside the new Google’s feature. In some sense, Results about you is broader from the RTBF, territorially speaking and, at the same time, completely different.
Newly introduced feature Results about you has the ability to answer Google users who are concerned for their personal information being shown in search results for whatever reason. This kind of possibility is broadening toward people who do not necessarily have some concern of harm and they just want to be more comfortable. Using the words of the Google’s liaison for explaining the work of this feature – if there’s something you are uncomfortable with about yourself in search, you have a new way of reporting it and maybe getting it removed in the right circumstances.
However, what kind of impact shall the use of this feature have in practice and what kind of overall afterimage shall be created by users is yet to be seen.
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