Google changes data retention policy

MUMBAI: Search engine Google has announced that it has changed its policy on storing personal information on its users and would make its server logs anonymous after 18 months. With this, Google has managed to reach a compromise with the European commission over data protection.

Previously it had proposed keeping data for up to two years before erasing it. The policy shift was flagged up in a letter sent to the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party in Brussels on Sunday by Google‘s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer.

Last month the working party challenged the search giant‘s policy of keeping its server logs, which include data that links a web search to an individual user, for up to 24 months.

One reason why concern has been raised about Google is that it now operates a wide range of services, including search, email, web-based applications and social networking.

Like many other web companies, Google has come under scrutiny over the way it handles personally identifiable data. Under the European Data Retention directive, the working party has argued that this data should not be stored without user consent and should be deleted as soon as possible.

"There is tremendous confusion in legal circles across Europe on these issues, and both individuals and companies would benefit from greater clarity from authorities responsible for the Data Retention Directive to answer these very fundamental questions," said Fleischer.

Google‘s FAQ on privacy explains that its server logs include a user‘s IP address, the search query, the date and time the search took place, and a cookie which allows the firm to identify the computer that requested the search.


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