Tech giant Google has decided to allow people under 18 years of age, or their parents, to request to delete their photos from search results. The new ability will let kids, teens and their parents request for images to be taken down from search results.
Efforts to Increase the Privacy of Minors
The new privacy feature is included in the package of changes that was announced by the company in August, so as to provide additional protections to users under 18 years of age. Other safeguards that have been included in the package are the option of making video uploads private by default, and disabling/weeding out “overly commercial” YouTube Kids content, like unboxing videos.
Any child or teen under 18, or their parents or guardians, can request Google to take down images that appear in its search results, by filling out a request form, which will require them to specify that the imagery to be removed belongs to an “individual currently under the age of 18,” while also providing personal information and image URLs/search queries pertaining to the results.
One Step Short of the GDPR
The company believes that the option will allow young users to have “more control over their digital footprint,” as well as the location of their images on Search. It also says that all requests will be reviewed, and follow up provided when need be, carrying additional verification questions.
This comes even as most countries, including the States, continue to come up with a legal framework to address the “right to be forgotten” online. But amid this, there exists the GDPR, the sweeping rule set by the European Union, which provides recourse for requesting the deletion of some kinds of online identifying information, like photos.
However, what sets it apart from Google’s new tool is the fact that in the latter’s case, only users under the age of 18 years can request their photos to be removed, but the GDPR allows for this provision to be extended even to those people who wish to have their images, which were uploaded qhen they were minors, removed.
Nevertheless, the image removal system on Google’s watch is being rolled out worldwide, and might be turn out to be a major step towards increasing user privacy. This comes even as its subsidiary YouTube testified before the Senate Commerce Committee this week regarding its efforts to protect young and vulnerable users on its platform.