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Google Search Results Will No Longer Show Medical Records

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Google makes a departure from its usually hands-off approach when it comes to search results

Google has started the process of removing people’s medical records from its search results after changing its policy around the removal of personal content.

The Alphabet-owned search web giant recently altered its content removal policy to include the “confidential, personal medical records of private people” in a self-policing move that will please privacy advocates.

This joins the likes of personal identification numbers, bank account details, credit card numbers and images of signatures already on Google’s content removal list.

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Web privacy

Speaking to Bloomberg, a Google spokeswoman said that the changes will not affect search advertising.

In the past Google has been famously hands-off with regards to the removal of webpages, which has brought criticism due to the influence it has on internet searches.

Its last policy change was in 2015 when it started honouring requests to remove “revenge porn” from its search listings, shortly after posting such content became a criminal offence in England and Wales.

More recently, Google has stepped up its efforts in the fight against ‘fake news’ by improving its search ranking algorithm and making it easier for people to provide feedback.

And just last week it vowed to take action against the posting of extremist content on YouTube following reports that UK Prime Minister Theresa May is considering introducing fines for technology companies that fail to remove such content.

The issue also links back to the ‘right to be forgotten’ rule which first became law in May 2014 and will be further enforced with next year’s introduction of Global Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

The law allows an individual “to request the deletion or removal of personal data whether there is no compelling reason for its continued processing” and has become increasingly prominent in the wake of several high-profile data breaches.

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