Magazine article Information Management

Google Reduces Data Retention Period

Magazine article Information Management

Google Reduces Data Retention Period

Article excerpt

In an effort to quell recent criticism from privacy watchdogs and the European Union, Google announced it would reduce the length of time it retains web users' search histories to 18 months rather than 24 months.

In a letter addressed to an EU privacy group, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Group, Google said search information will now be made anonymous after a year and a half. The information, which is gathered every time Google's search engine is used, reveals the searcher's search terms, site visits, and more. Google shares general information on search trends, but said it does not release this personal information outside the company.

"We believe we can still address our legitimate interests in security, innovation, and antifraud efforts with this shorter period," Peter FMscher, Google's global privacy counsel, wrote in the letter. He added that the company would "firmly reject" a shorter retention period.

Google has argued that keeping search records improves search engine performance and helps fight spam.

Google announced its new data retention policy just days after Privacy International, a London-based advocacy group, gave Google the lowest privacy protection rating of all major Internet sites. It said Google accounted for 96 percent of the 2,000 complaints it received in 2006.

Fleischer wrote in the letter that Google is committed to following U.S. law and EU data protection principles, however, there are many gray areas related to privacy matters in the United States and EU countries. …

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