Technology

Google to let minors request removal of images from search

Google on Wednesday announced it will let minors request to remove images from the company's search feature. 

Anyone under the age of 18, or their guardians, can request the images on search results be removed by filling out a form to report the image, Google said in a blog post

Google's team will review the request and reach out for any additional information the company may need to verify that it meets the requirements for removal. Users will be notified once the image is taken down if it meets the requirement.

"We believe this change will help give young people more control over their digital footprint and where their images can be found on Search," Google said in the post. 

The update comes after Congress increased scrutiny over tech company's policies regarding children's safety and privacy online. 

Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) on Wednesday held a press conference calling for action on their Children and Teens Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA 2.0, that would boost children's privacy protections online. 

The proposal would call for companies to create an "eraser button" that would allow parents and kids to eliminate a child's or teen's personal information. 

It would also prohibit companies from collecting information from users who are 13 to 15 years old without the user's consent. The bill has bipartisan support and is co-sponsored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.). 

Senators' focus on kids' safety online has ramped up after a series of reports about Facebook was published based on internal documents leaked by a company whistleblower. But lawmakers have taken a broader, industry-wide view on the topic. 

Earlier this week, the Senate Commerce consumer protection subcommittee grilled executives from TikTok, Snapchat and Google-owned YouTube about their policies regarding young users. 

The executives defended their policies in place to guard children against inappropriate content and unintended experiences on the platforms and tried to distance themselves from Facebook. 

But Markey said the companies' defense is not convincing enough. 

"These companies can't say they're different from Facebook when their algorithms do the same thing, when their business model is based on the same thing - targeting kids and teens, hooking them early and pushing toxic content to them," Markey said Wednesday.

"Big Tech has lost our trust. It has forfeited the benefit of the doubt. Congress can no longer wait to act, whether the Big Tech likes it or not. We need to pass this legislation now to protect kids online," he added. 

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