Previously, individuals could remove links to contact information when it had been published maliciously – so-called “doxxing”.

Now people can request removal if it poses other risks, for example of “harmful direct contact”.

Google warns that the information will still exist online.

“It’s important to remember that removing content from Google Search won’t remove it from the internet, which is why you may wish to contact the hosting site directly, if you’re comfortable doing so,” Michelle Chang, Google’s global policy lead for search wrote, announcing the change.

However, websites – particularly those hosting stolen data – may not respond to requests for removal. Even if someone hosting data agrees to removal, personal information may also be discoverable on archived versions of web pages.

The information may also be hosted on websites that are designed not to appear in Google search results, but whose location is widely known by criminals.