Google has expanded options for keeping personal information private from online searches.
The company said Friday it will let people request that more types of content such as personal contact information like phone numbers, email and physical addresses be removed from search results.
The new policy also allows the removal of other information that may pose a risk for identity theft, such as confidential log-in credentials.
The company said in a statement that open access to information is vital, “but so is empowering people with the tools they need to protect themselves and keep their sensitive, personally identifiable information private.”
“Privacy and online safety go hand in hand. And when you’re using the internet, it’s important to have control over how your sensitive, personally identifiable information can be found,” it said.
Google Search earlier had permitted people to request that highly personal content that could cause direct harm be removed. That includes information removed due to doxxing and personal details like bank account or credit card numbers that could be used for fraud.
But information increasing pops up in unexpected places and is used in new ways, so policies need to evolve, the company said.
Having personal contact information openly available online also can pose a threat and Google said it had received requests for the option to remove that content, too.
It said that when it receives such requests it will study all the content on the web page to avoid limiting availability of useful information or of content on the public record on government or other official websites.
“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,” it said.
An application developed in Kenya to improve the marketing of fish caught in Lake Victoria is helping women fishmongers fend off sex-for-fish exploitation by fishermen. The Aquarech app allows traders to buy fish without having to negotiate with fishermen – as Ruud Elmendorp reports from Kisumu, Kenya.
Videographer: Ruud Elmendorp Produced by: Henry Hernandez
У заяві канадських депутатів уточнюється, що систематичні випадки умисного вбивства цивільних, осквернення трупів, катування та примусова депортація українських дітей є воєнними злочинами, вчиненими військами РФ
Elon Musk’s request to scrap a settlement with securities regulators over 2018 tweets claiming he had the funding to take Tesla private was denied by a federal judge in New York.
Judge Lewis Liman on Wednesday also denied a motion to nullify subpoenas of Musk seeking information about possible violations of his settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Musk had asked the court to throw out the settlement, which required that his tweets be approved by a Tesla attorney. The SEC is investigating whether the Tesla CEO violated the settlement with tweets last November asking Twitter followers if he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock.
The whole dispute stems from an October 2018 agreement with the SEC in which Musk and Tesla each agreed to pay $20 million in civil fines over Musk’s tweets about having the money to take Tesla private at $420 per share.
The funding was far from secured and the electric vehicle company remains public, but Tesla’s stock price jumped. The settlement specified governance changes, including Musk’s ouster as board chairman, as well as pre-approval of his tweets.
Musk attorney Alex Spiro contended in court motions that the SEC was trampling on Musk’s right to free speech.
A hands-off approach to moderating content at Elon Musk’s Twitter could clash with ambitious new laws in Europe meant to protect users from disinformation, hate speech and other harmful material.
Musk, who describes himself as a “free speech absolutist,” pledged to buy Twitter for $44 billion this week, with European Union officials and digital campaigners quick to say that any focus on free speech to the detriment of online safety would not fly after the 27-nation bloc solidified its status as a global leader in the effort to rein in the power of tech giants.
“If his approach will be ‘just stop moderating it,’ he will likely find himself in a lot of legal trouble in the EU,” said Jan Penfrat, senior policy adviser at digital rights group EDRi.
Musk will soon be confronted with Europe’s Digital Services Act, which will require big tech companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook parent Meta to police their platforms more strictly or face billions in fines.
Officials agreed just days ago on the landmark legislation, expected to take effect by 2024. It’s unclear how soon it could spark a similar crackdown elsewhere, with U.S. lawmakers divided on efforts to address competition, online privacy, disinformation and more.
That means the job of reining in a Musk-led Twitter could fall to Europe — something officials signaled they’re ready for.
“Be it cars or social media, any company operating in Europe needs to comply with our rules — regardless of their shareholding,” Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner, tweeted Tuesday. “Mr Musk knows this well. He is familiar with European rules on automotive, and will quickly adapt to the Digital Services Act.”
Musk’s plans for Twitter haven’t been fleshed out beyond a few ideas for new features, opening its algorithm to public inspection and defeating “bots” posing as real users.
France’s digital minister, Cedric O, said Musk has “interesting things” that he wants to push for Twitter, “but let’s remember that #DigitalServicesAct — and therefore the obligation to fight misinformation, online hate, etc. — will apply regardless of the ideology of its owner.”
EU Green Party lawmaker Alexandra Geese, who was involved in negotiating the law, said, “Elon Musk’s idea of free speech without content moderation would exclude large parts of the population from public discourse,” such as women and people of color.
Twitter declined to comment. Musk tweeted that “the extreme antibody reaction from those who fear free speech says it all.” He added that by free speech, he means “that which matches the law” and that he’s against censorship going “far beyond the law.”
The United Kingdom also has an online safety law in the works that threatens senior managers at tech companies with prison if they don’t comply. Users would get more power to block anonymous trolls, and tech companies would be forced to proactively take down illegal content.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office stressed the need for Twitter to remain “responsible” and protect users.
“Regardless of ownership, all social media platforms must be responsible,” Johnson spokesman Max Blain said Tuesday.
Need seen for cleanup
Damian Collins, a British lawmaker who led a parliamentary committee working on the bill, said that if Musk really wants to make Twitter a free speech haven, “he will need to clean up the digital town square.”
Collins said Twitter has become a place where users are drowned out by coordinated armies of “bot” accounts spreading disinformation and division and that users refrain from expressing themselves “because of the hate and abuse they will receive.”
The laws in the U.K. and EU target such abuse. Under the EU’s Digital Services Act, tech companies must put in place systems so illegal content can be easily flagged for swift removal.
Experts said Twitter will have to go beyond taking down clearly defined illegal content like hate speech, terrorism and child sexual abuse and grapple with material that falls into a gray zone.
The law includes requirements for big tech platforms to carry out annual risk assessments to determine how much their products and design choices contribute to the spread of divisive material that can affect issues like health or public debate.
“This is all about assessing to what extent your users are seeing, for example, Russian propaganda in the context of the Ukraine war,” online harassment or COVID-19 misinformation, said Mathias Vermeulen, public policy director at data rights agency AWO.
Violations would incur fines of up to 6% of a company’s global annual revenue. Repeat offenders can be banned from the EU.
The Digital Services Act also requires tech companies to be more transparent by giving regulators and researchers access to data on how their systems recommend content to users.
Musk has similar thoughts, saying his plans include “making the algorithms open source to increase trust.”
Penfrat said it’s a great idea that could pave the way to a new ecosystem of ranking and recommendation options.
But he panned another Musk idea — “authenticating all humans” — saying that taking away anonymity or pseudonyms from people, including society’s most marginalized, was the dream of every autocrat.