Google introduces feature enabling under 18s to remove their images from image search

Written by Laura Gathercole | November 26, 2021

Data Protection

Are you worried about your child’s images showing up on image searches? Google has published new guidance to enable children to have more control over their digital footprint. Minors and their parents or guardians are now able to request the removal of their images from the Google Image search results. The images will not appear in the Images tab, or as thumbnails. It should be noted that this will not remove the image from the entire internet, but the impact is still significant.

It may also be a useful tool to protect privacy where you may not own the copyright to an image, for example if someone else took a photo of you, they would own the copyright even if it is you in the photo. Even if you do own the copyright, this feature enables the taking down of a photo without resorting to claiming copyright infringement, which saves time and expense.

Google have announced several further changes they are making to increase the safety of those children using Google accounts. Those changes include:

· Changing the default upload setting on YouTube to ‘private’ for 13–17-year-olds.

· Pushing digital wellbeing features such as screen time limits, bedtime and ‘take a break’ reminders, safeguards and education on commercial content on YouTube.

· Implementation of ‘SafeSearch’ automatically for users under the age of 18, which filters out any explicit search results.

· Disallowing under 18s the option to turn on their location history.

· Within the app store, the introduction of a ‘safety section’ which shows parents which apps follow the family policies. There is also a requirement for apps to disclose how they use any data they collect, enabling parents to more easily decide if the app is suitable for their child to use.

· Blocking of targeted advertising to minors based on age, gender or interests.

These changes reflect the increasing importance placed by society generally on internet safety and control over what under 18s can access through the internet, helping to ensure an age-appropriate experience.

Briffa can advise on a full range of data protection and privacy issues.

Written by Laura Gathercole, Paralegal

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