Microsoft news: Europe warns Google, Microsoft, Yahoo about search data retention

The three companies received letters Wednesday from the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, which oversees data protection issues in the E.U. Since 2008 the working party has pressured search companies to retain highly detailed search records for no longer than six months. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft all agreed to modify how long they store the detailed data, which varied up to 18 months.

The data collected by search engines can include a host of details, including the search terms, the date and time of the search, the searcher's IP (Internet Protocol) address and the brand of browser, operating system and language used. Google keeps the full data for nine months and then obscures the last octet of the IP address. The working party wrote to Google saying that policy does not protect the "identifiability of data subjects." Also, Google retains cookies -- data files used to track how a person moves around a Web site -- for 18 months, which would also allow for the correlation of search queries, the working party said.

In response, Google said "we develop our policies based on what provides the best experience for users both in terms of respect for their privacy and the quality and security of our services." The E.U.'s Data Protection Directive, which the working party accused the companies of violating, does not dictate a specific time period for how long data should be retained. But data protection authorities in individual countries could opt to force companies to abide by the working party's recommendations.

In late 2008, Microsoft called on its rivals to observe the six-month recommendation. On Thursday it said it will delete the entire IP address from search queries at six months. But the working party also found fault this week with how Microsoft handles cookies for registered and unregistered users of its search engine. Microsoft also took a veiled swipe at Google on Thursday, saying the working party should ensure that "the whole search market, including the 95 percent that in some markets is held by a single company, is held to a single standard."

The working party is calling for the companies to use an outside auditor to verify if search engine data is being adequately scrubbed. The working party has also sent a letter to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission asking if the companies' practices are in conflict with the Federal Trade Commission Act, which deals with unfair and deceptive practices.

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are retaining detailed search engine data for too long and not making it sufficiently anonymous later, in violation of European law, the European Union's data protection advisory body has warned

View Article



Comments

  • There are no comments yet. Be the first to comment!

Leave a Comment
  • Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

Top White Papers and Webcasts

  • When individual departments procure cloud service for their own use, they usually don't consider the hazardous organization-wide implications. Read this paper to learn best practices for setting up an internal, IT-based cloud brokerage function that service the entire organization. Find out how this approach enables you to retain top-down visibility and control of network security and manage the impact of cloud traffic on your WAN.

  • U.S. companies are desperately trying to recruit and hire skilled software engineers and developers, but there is simply not enough quality talent to go around. Tiempo Development is a nearshore software development company. Our headquarters are in AZ, but we are a pioneer and leader in outsourcing to Mexico, based on our three software development centers there. We have a proven process and we are experts at providing our customers with powerful solutions. We transform ideas into reality.

Most Popular Programming Stories

More for Developers

RSS Feeds

Thanks for your registration, follow us on our social networks to keep up-to-date