In August 2008, Google cut the retention period of user search data to 9 months, down from 18 months. After 9 months it no longer retains the IP addresses that can be used to link a user search to an individual.

Recently Microsoft, not to be outdone, reduced the retention period of its users search data to a mere 6 months. Microsoft has accused Google of retaining a portion of the user’s IP address after it’s self-imposed 9 month retention period, while Microsoft claims it will remove the entire IP address.

“Quality of search won’t be reduced but privacy will be enhanced”
Brendon Lynch, Microsoft’s director of privacy policy

Microsoft’s actions appear to be in response to European Union data protection officials request that leading search engine makers respond to their privacy concerns by the end of this month over retaining IP address data.

We can only hope that increased competition will lead to improved privacy and data security by industry leaders, setting a course for others to follow.

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