RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — These days, it’s hard to imagine life without the internet because it’s become so entwined in our daily lives on many levels.
However, that internet usage has a price: our personal data. Our private information is out there and being collected by everyone.
Now, there is a way you can stop some of that personally identifiable data from being accessed through Google searches.
A lot of people feel there is a lack of control over our personal data, and they worry about how it’s being used and who is using it.
As one of the big tech companies that use and collect our data, Google is offering away to remove your personal data from its search results to help protect your privacy–but it’s not a sure thing.
According to a survey by the website DataProt, 86 percent of us have tried to remove or decrease our digital footprint online at one point.
Raleigh resident Tony Everett is one of those people concerned about data collection on the internet.
“I’m extremely worried,” he said. “I think we’re all in danger of our information being leaked.”
When that info gets out on the dark web, the criminals will sell it.
Security experts have found Social Security numbers go for just a dollar a piece, while driver’s license info can be obtained on the dark web for $20 each.
If your medical history is stolen, internet scammers can take that information and sell it for more than a $1,000 to any hacker who wants it.
Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia asked Raleigh resident Maggie Agnew if she would be interested in a way to stop her private data from beimg included in web searches.
“It depends on how tedious it would be, how time consuming,” she said.
Google is now offering a five-step process that allows you to request it to allow you to remove a lot of sensitive information from searches on its platforms.
“I don’t use Google products because they are famous for taking your data,” said Internet user Reed Elliot. “I use products like Duckduckgo and Mozilla Firefox.”
Google says when you submit the request for data removal, it’ll evaluate it to see if you qualify searches.
Among items Google will remove:
- Social Security numbers
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Images of handwritten signatures
- Images of ID docs
- Highly personal, restricted, and official records, like medical records
- Personal contact info like addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses
- Confidential login credentials
But not everyone thinks the search engine data removal will do any good.
“I used to work in IT and nothing is anonymous,” said John Sneed. “They have all of our information. Anyone can get whatever they want all the time.”
Even if Google approves your request to remove personal data from its searches, there are still other search engines like BING, Yahoo, Ask dot Com and Excite and they can still access that information.