European Groups Says Search Engines Must Delete Search Data Within Six Months

Google, Yahoo Keep User Data Too Long, EU Group Says from Bloomberg reports that 27 EU nations privacy officials unanimously are supporting a new proposal that may require search companies to delete search data before six months.

The proposal, Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, requires “valid justification” to store any search data, and says six months is the maximum amount of time a search company like Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft can store this data.

Our very own Greg Sterling was quoted in the article:

Today’s decision may threaten “the golden goose” of the broader business of Internet advertising, which uses customers’ online records to offer personally targeted ads, Greg Sterling, an analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence in San Francisco, said in a telephone interview.

So far, most of the search companies have responded that they are eager to review the proposal. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Ask.com have already made changes to how they store and hold such data. You can see the history behind these changes in our privacy section.

Postscript: Google has posted their thoughts at their Google Public Policy Blog.

We believe that data retention requirements have to take into account the need to provide quality products and services for users, like accurate search results, as well as system security and integrity concerns. We have recently discussed some of the many ways that using this data helps improve users’ experience, from making our products safe, to preventing fraud, to building language models to improve search results. This perspective — the ways in which data is used to improve consumers’ experience on the web — is unfortunately sometimes lacking in discussions about online privacy.

Related Topics: Channel: Consumer | Legal: Privacy

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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