Ever Google yourself and see some images you wish you hadn’t? Imagine seeing pictures of your kids under the same circumstances. For every reason you are probably imagining, Google has set a policy that will allow minors (or their parents) to remove images of them from Google Search. At the same time, the U.S. government is leaning on big tech to protect kids’ privacy online.
Google’s Announcement to Give Minors Control of Images
In a blog post, Google introduced a new tool that gives minors and their parents “more control over their images in Google Search.”
In doing so, Google is admitting – for the most part – that its current tools and policies to remove content from search results might not always be enough. it mentioned in the blog post, “We know that kids and teens have to navigate some unique challenges online, especially when a picture of them is unexpectedly available on the Internet.”
Google’s new policy states that anyone 18 or younger, or their parent or guardian, “can now request the removal of their images from Search results, following a few steps. This means these images won’t appear in the images tab or as thumbnails in any feature in Google Search.”
How to Remove a Minor’s Image from Google Search
Google laid out in its blog post the process minors, parents, or guardians must go through to request images be removed from Google Search.
- Head to the Google help page to learn the information you’ll need when making your request.
- Use this form to start your removal request.
- Fill out the form and include URLs of the image(s) to be removed and the search results pages. Also include any search query terms that brought you to those results.
- Submit the request.
- Google will review your request and reach out if it needs more information or once the image has been removed.
“We believe this change will help give young people more control over their digital footprint and where their images can be found on Search,” said Google.
Do note that the images will not be removed from the sites hosting them – they will only be removed from Google’s search results. Follow up with the website hosting the images to see about getting them removed.
Congress Puts Pressure on Tech Companies to Protect Children Online
Google’s announcement that it would allow the removal of minors’ images from search results came after the U.S. Congress put pressure on tech companies regarding the safety and privacy of children online.
Two senators held a press conference this week to discuss their proposed legislation, the Children and Teens Online Privacy Protection Act, also known as COPPA 2.0. This legislation would require tech companies to create an “eraser button,” allowing minors and parents to remove children’s information from the Internet.
While it sounds like Google and legislators are on board with removing images and protecting minors’ privacy, what hasn’t been addressed is what will happen if the images remain online. What if a 16-year-old girl posts an ill-advised photo, then turns 25 and wants it deleted, fearing it could affect future job prospects? This area certainly needs to be addressed as well.
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