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If you’ve ever asked, “how do I remove public records from Google?” our guide will help you navigate the mugshot removal process.
Almost every internet user knows that you can find nearly anything under the sun on Google. The search engine covers a wide array of information across the web about any person, thing, place, activity, movie, series, site, and anything else.
It is no question that this has massively helped netizens today. Different people, professionals, brands, and businesses have benefitted from the top-notch search engine.
Certain businesses known as data brokers have also reaped great benefits from this. This is because Google has made it much easier for these brokers to access public records from the internet.
Before digging into Google’s involvement in the data brokerage industry and how you can remove public records from the internet, let’s look into what a public record actually is.
It is easy to think that a public record is simply a record that anyone can see. While this is true, these public records are actually considered public because they were filed and recorded by public agencies on the local, state, and federal levels.
Thus, to be specific, a public record comprises information that was recorded or documented by a public agency. This is in line with the FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act).
This specific law was implemented in order to offer transparency to American citizens when it comes to almost any public transaction or piece of information.
On the local level, the county clerk’s office is the designated office to handle government agencies’ public records. The county clerk manages these public and original records and documents.
Based on the law, there are several documents and records that could actually be considered public records. These include the following.
Any citizen is legally allowed to access the information from public records. This has been helpful not just on an individual scale but also on a business scale.
Certain businesses known as data brokers focus on collecting and disseminating public records. Their functions largely depend on access to information from public records.
As its name suggests, a data broker or information broker operates on data. This kind of firm collects, processes, cleans, and structures the data to be released to third-party services.
The data brokerage industry may be unfamiliar to an average person. However, this industry is actually thriving.
You probably don’t know it, but you may have previously stumbled upon, heard of, or used a data broker site. Some of the most popular “people search” sites are data brokers.
As of 2019, it was reported that there were over 4,000 information brokers from all over the world. That is quite a massive number, and there are high chances that the number has increased today.
People search sites are information brokers with services that are largely used. This is because these sites offer personal details of people.
These people search websites typically list the following personal information:
These are just some of the personal information that can be found on people search sites. Without this personal information, these people search websites would not exist.
Some of the people search websites include:
While there are still other types of information brokers (such as those that focus on people with criminal charges) and websites, people search sites are considered popular brokers.
Information brokers source data through public records (and other private sources, such as social media sites). They mostly browse through records from the internet.
Their public record sources include the following:
These are all public records that information brokers scrape through in order to offer their services. Through these records, they can find a person’s address, phone number, and even Social Security numbers.
After collecting, cleaning, and processing this data, they include the information in their databases and use it for business purposes.
Depending on the nature of its services, a data broker may use personal information from public records for a variety of purposes, including the following:
Simply stated, a data broker may use the private details to ramp up marketing and advertising efforts, trace fraud, inform relevant parties about credit background, and assist people in finding each other through people search websites.
An information broker needs to access public records in order to make and offer reports about people. Considering this, Google has played a significant role in making personal information from public records more accessible to data brokers. But more than that, you may be wondering by now if Google itself could actually pass as a data broker.
It is true that Google collects your private and sensitive information and offers it to third-party services for whatever purpose. That being said, it is safe to say that this platform is indeed a data broker. In fact, several prominent digital privacy groups claim that both Google and Facebook are considered information brokers. They may even count as people search sites.
Because of the platform’s great search engines, millions of people can easily access different kinds of information. The same is true for data brokers. By simply typing a relevant keyword and browsing through Google search results, data brokers can find public records that they can scrape off personal information. This could work both in a positive and negative way.
While it is true that the data broker industry has helped to some extent, it has also posed risks to your privacy online. This is something you should not turn a blind eye to.
In people search sites, specifically, it is very easy to search someone up and get to know a stranger. It also means, though, that if you can search about someone through these search engines, the chances are that people can find out about you as well. This is the case if you are specifically listed on the site.
When people search sites publish your sensitive information from records from the internet, it means that you are more exposed online. Anyone can find out about you. This could tarnish your online reputation, affect your digital footprint, and make your private details easily accessed online.
This may be a risk in itself, but that is not all there is to it. Such an occurrence actually gives room for cybercrime to flourish.
If some random internet user is capable of searching you up, it is safe to conclude that cybercriminals can discover you as well. These criminals may even go even further and use your personal information to perform illegal activities. This type of criminal activity is known as identity theft.
Because anybody can find out things about you, this makes you more vulnerable to becoming a victim of cybercrime. Things could go very badly when your private details fall into the wrong hands. You may even be a victim of cybercrime or impersonation.
In order to protect your identity and your personal information from future privacy breaches, one thing you can actually do is to submit a removal request to Google. This is necessary for them to remove sensitive information about you. You can even process to remove public records.
Google announced last April that the public can now request to have personal information removed from their search results. Simply follow these steps.
STEP 1: Go to Google’s support page.
STEP 2: Browse through the page until you see the “Start Removal Request” option. Click it when you see it.
STEP 3: The platform will immediately ask you if you contacted the website’s owners about your desire to opt out. This is not required, so you can easily check the “No, I prefer not to” option if you haven’t done so.
STEP 4: Google will then prompt you to tell them what you want them to remove from the internet. Choose the “Personal Info, Like ID Numbers And Private Documents” option.
STEP 5: Specify what personal information of yours actually shows up in the web results. You can indicate if it’s your driver’s license number, real phone number, home address, social security number, or other kinds of data.
STEP 6: Tick the “Live” checkbox.
Note: This procedure only works to remove information from websites that are live; the process is different for cached sites.
STEP 7: Google will then ask you if your removal request is related to doxxing, which refers to “contact information being shared with malicious, threatening, or harassing intent.” Specify if this is the case.
STEP 8: Provide your details, including your complete name, email address, and country.
Note: Google only allows you to submit requests for yourself or for a person that you represent.
STEP 9: Submit links to the information. It can reach up to 1,000 different sources across the internet. Google will also ask for the specific URL and for you to specify where the results show up.
Once your request is submitted, Google will proceed with the process of removing public records of your personal information.
Considering how Google is full of billions and billions of information pieces, it was a good step for them to offer a specific way for internet users to opt-out of the platform.
Even if there is a law in place that allows this information to be accessed, you shouldn’t take chances. It is not necessary for other people to know your phone number, date of birth, social account details, home address, and of course, your social security number. All of this information should be kept private.
Hence, if your private information can be seen by the public, it is time to take action to solve it. Follow the opt-out and removal steps illustrated above. Content removal agencies may be useful to help remove information for you. Some of them even offer a free consultation. Just make sure that you don’t sit still and wait for the potential risks to become a reality.