Tech giant Google is to introduce a policy enabling anyone under the age of 18, or their parent or guardian, to request removal of their picture from Google Image search results in the coming weeks.

It is one of several changes the company is making to, it says, give children a safer experience online.

“Of course, removing an image from search doesn’t remove it from the web, but we believe this change will help give young people more control of their images online,” general manager for kids and family Mindy Brooks said in a statement.

Also, SafeSearch will become the default setting for under-18s, while on YouTube the default upload setting will become the most private available for those aged between 13 and 17, with take a break and bedtime reminders turned on and autoplay turned off for users under 18. 

Brooks said of company policy: “We’re committed to building products that are secure by default, private by design, and that put people in control.”

She pointed out technology has helped children be educated during coronavirus lockdowns and maintain connections with family and friends. 

But she also commented on a problem Google faces. “Knowing the accurate age of our users across multiple products and surfaces, while at the same time respecting their privacy and ensuring that our services remain accessible, is a complex challenge.

“It will require input from regulators, lawmakers, industry bodies, technology providers, and others to address it – and to ensure that we all build a safer internet for kids.”


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