After Google’s announcement that it will anonymize search data logs on its servers after 18 months of inactivity and Ask.com will allow users to scrub off their data, it is now Microsoft and Yahoo’s turn to take on the user privacy issue hauled at them by both the users and government agencies.
Microsoft for its part announces that it will alse erase search logs after 18 months. But wanting to make one step further ahead of Google, Microsoft also said that it will give its users a free hand in deciding whether they want their data stored in Microsoft’s Live Search servers or be erased after the 18 months period of inactivity has lapsed. Letting this data stay on search servers allows for search engines to give user-tailored search results to users when they use the search engines again. Meanwhile, Yahoo also vowed to erase search data logs after 13 months.
So, whose policy on the privacy issue is the best policy in terms of “really” protecting user’s privacy? The New York Times, thinks its Ask.com and Yahoo. Ask.com because with AskEraser, search data logs will be completely erased and Yahoo because of its shorter retention period.
But I don’t think search data logs’ retention period is the issue here after all. But rather on what and how the search data logs are being used by the different search engines. It would also be noteworthy to examine how strong the search servers are when it comes to protection against, hackers and phisers. After all, I don’t think search engines would make use of user search data logs in a bad way.