Responding to European demands that the major search engines cut the length of time they store records of web searches, Microsoft said on Monday it would only store that data for six months as long as Google and Yahoo follow suit.
The New York Times reports, however, that neither Google nor Yahoo are ready to go along with the request. Microsoft attorney John Vassallo says the company won’t change its policy alone. “We support the commissioners’ recommendations but are asking them to ensure these are uniformly observed,” Vassallo tells the Times. “Otherwise, to do so unilaterally would put us at a disadvantage.”
The debate goes back almost two years, if not longer. In March 2007, Google said it would anonymize search records after 24 months to protect privacy, then followed that up a couple months later by agreeing to anonymize the date after 18 months. Just three months ago, with both the US and EU breathing down Google’s neck, the company said it would cut its data retention time down to nine months. Be sure to see Anonymizing Google’s Server Log Data — How’s It Going? for a recent update on how the process works.
But in April of this year, a European Commission advisory panel recommended that the major search engines delete search data after six months. Microsoft’s Live Search currently stores that data for 18 months, while Google and Yahoo store web search records for nine and 13 months, respectively.
According to the Times report, all three companies will make presentations to the advisory panel in February.