December 17, 2008 | By Kurt Opsahl

Reactions to Yahoo Data Retention Policy

Earlier today, Yahoo! announced a new data retention policy providing for anonymization of search queries — as well as page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks — after 90 days.

Google's response:

Google takes privacy very seriously and we aim to strike the appropriate balance between protecting our users' privacy and offering them benefits of data retention, such as better security measures and new innovations. Earlier this year, we already committed to anonymizing IP addresses in our server logs after nine months, significantly shorter than our previous 18 month retention policy. When we make changes to our policies, they are dependent on what will be best for our users both in terms of the services we provide and the respect of their privacy. It is a balance that we are continually evaluating.

Microsoft's response:

Microsoft believes all major players in the market should move to effective privacy practices and welcomes Yahoo’s steps on search anonymization following Microsoft’s call for an industry standard last week. Microsoft believes that the method of anonymization is more important than the anonymization timeframe and believes all major search engines need to adopt a high standard.

Last week, Microsoft had challenged its search engine rivals to adopt a six month policy, saying "We are prepared to make this change [to six months] but believe it is imperative that all search companies adopt the same standard to truly protect people's privacy."

Representative Ed Markey, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet's statement:

"Privacy is a cornerstone of freedom and I applaud Yahoo's announcement today for recognizing that consumers deserve ample privacy protections in the digital era to ensure trust and freedom on the Internet. I have been pressing online companies for greater voluntary efforts to refrain from the massive, systematic gathering of information about individual consumer web use and the long term retention of such data in a form that can identify the web habits, interests, searches, and purchases of individual Americans," said Rep. Markey.

"Today, Yahoo voluntarily sets a new standard for such privacy protection, a standard against which Microsoft, Google, and others will now be compared."

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