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Google now lets people under 18 or their parents request to delete photos from search results

·2-min read

Google is rolling out the ability for kids, teens and their parents to request to have pictures deleted from the company's image search results.

The new privacy option was one of many changes the company announced in August in an effort to preemptively build in additional protections for users under the age of 18. Google's other planned safeguards include making video uploads private by default, and disabling and weeding out some "overly commercial" YouTube kids content, including unboxing videos.

Anyone under the age of 18 or their parent or guardian can ask Google to remove an image from appearing in search results by filling out this request form. You'll need to specify that you'd like Google to remove "Imagery of an individual currently under the age of 18" and provide some personal information, the image URLs and search queries that would surface the results.

"We believe this change will help give young people more control over their digital footprint and where their images can be found on Search," the company wrote in a blog post.

Google says that it will review all requests and follow up with additional verification questions where needed. The company will provide a notification when images in question are removed, so you won't be left waiting.

In many countries, including the U.S., there is no national legal framework addressing the "right to be forgotten" online. The EU's sweeping privacy ruleset known as GDPR, widely regarded as the gold standard for strong privacy regulation, gives people recourse to request that some kinds of online identifying information be removed, including photos.

Google's new request tool is helpful and available globally, but stops short of the requirements that GDPR enforces. In Google's case, to request that a photo be removed the person in question must be under the age of 18. GDPR goes further by requiring internet companies to remove images of an individual at their request if they were a minor at the time the image was uploaded.

Google announced the image removal option and a suite of other changes as the company and its peers in the tech industry come under increased regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. On Tuesday, YouTube testified before the Senate Commerce Committee about efforts it takes to protect young, vulnerable users on its video platform, touting the recently announces changes.

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