Last week, a European Union privacy panel issued a report urging search engine providers such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN to delete data taken from users after a six month period. Even though most of these companies are based outside of the EU, the panel is recommending that they abide by EU data protection rules.
The privacy watchdog group itself has no privacy powers, however, this report could inspire the EU executive Commission to enact stricter regulations. The Commission is currently re-drafing data protection rules for the 27-nation bloc.
According to the report, search engines fall under the current rules, which were drawn up in 1995, if operators collect users Internet Protocol addresses, or gather search history information with cookies.
The panel considers one’s IP address to be personal information, and has thus recommended that search logs and other information taken from users be erased after six months. This, they hope, will better protect the privacy of users, as well as avoid the possible misuse of the collected data.
The report also scolded the search engines for failing to inform users with regards to why some information is necessary to perform a search on their site.