Years ago, when I was young and fool, I sent personal information on a mailing list. Now, if someone type my first name and last name, this content shows up. I do not want this content to show up.

What could be done to address this annoying situation?

To be honest, I thought my mail would directly go into some developers' mailbox. It appears I was wrong.

I am from Europe, if that matters.

  • 3
    From an information security perspective I don't think there's really anything you can do about this. Once a piece of information is public, it's public. Removing it from Google or even the original website isn't going to change that.
    – Ajedi32
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 19:30
  • 3
    @Ajedi32 it certainly makes it less accessible. Additionally, there might be some legal action ForgetMe could take with regards to the original site. I would recommend emailing the maintainer of the mailing list and see if there's anything they could do to remove the PII.
    – d0nut
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 20:01
  • 1
    @Ajedi32: that might be true in some cases, but I don't think you can state such a general assertion. In 22 years of internet usage, it has happened to me many times that when I tried to find again some content I had seen in the past, I've been unable to. Information does disappear from the web. Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 4:25
  • @MartinArgerami While useful information disappears, personal information is snatched up by a bot and sold by the bot owner, so it doesn't. The internet is a strange place.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 16:37

4 Answers 4


In some countries (including all countries within the European Union) there is - it's called the right to be forgotten.

You'll have to fill out a form per search engine, the one for Google can be found here.

  • 1
    It's not that easy/entirely possible: "If granted, Google will: (1) Drop the links only for the specific search terms requested. (2) They continue to appear for other search terms. (3) Drop the links only for its European sites. (4) Continue to show the links for all searches in Google editions for non-European countries." -- from a literally 15 second Google search. src: searchengineland.com/… last updated: Feb 10, 2016
    – Daniel
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 4:47

You can ask the mailing list administrator to remove your personal information from the public list archive. This works anywhere in the world, and unlike the so-called "right" to be forgotten, it actually removes the information from the network.

You can usually reach such an administrator by contacting <listname>-owner@<domain>, but check the website for the mailing list to confirm contact information for its administrator.

  • That also has issues; if a cached or archived version of the mailing list archives with the info exists elsewhere, it will still be discoverable.
    – JAB
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 21:27
  • 1
    @JAB Taking care of the original will also take care of most caches over a short time; and archives such as archive.org's Wayback Machine aren't really searchable. Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 21:28

Google has to follow the European Union ruling on the "right to be forgotten". Since links should be avoided here, the current steps that need to be taken are: Google > Remove information from Google > Take action > I don't control the web page. I hope this brings you in the right direction.

  • 8
    links are fine as long as the rest of the answer is sufficient to help the asker.
    – schroeder
    Commented Apr 1, 2016 at 18:41

There is much you can do. CEE laws include the "right to be forgotten". That means, you have to personaly find each and every site and search engine that could have a track of the information you want to remove, an ask the site manager to remove it.

No problem for major search engine like google, at least at first sight. You ask them to de-reference the original link and they to it. They are glad of it because it says: if it exists on Internet it is referenced by Google, and if it is no longer in Google it has vanished. The reality is much worse. If another site has a link to the original page, or has partial copies - allowed in copyright laws of many countries, that indirect link will remain. Neither Google nor anyone else is asked to carefully clean the information. Only you are responsable to find every link or site.

Following is just a personal opinion. Google and other major search engine are particularly glad of that, because it re-inforce their position without forcing them to be responsable of anything else than their own database.

So as long as indirect links are not concerned by the right to be forgotten, the only thing than a sane human being should do is to never post an information that could later be harmful, because once published, you have no control on it. Even if you post it on a said private zone - not speaking of corporate private networks- you should think twice of that sentence shared by military intelligence services and anarchists: a secret shared by more than two persons is no longer a secret.

  • 1
    Of course nobody asks Google to remove information from websites Google doesn't control; they don't control those websites!
    – Kevin
    Commented Apr 2, 2016 at 21:02
  • @Kevin So: info remains ... Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 8:08
  • @SergeBallesta, if no one can find it, why does it matter?
    – Wildcard
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 0:15

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