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How Long Should Google Remember Searches?

     
11:59 am on Jun 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Over the years we’ve taken many steps to protect our users' data and privacy. For example, we have resisted overly-broad government subpoenas; we've designed our services to give users a choice between personalized services and general services; and we've engineered our services to allow users to see and control how much data they wish to share with us. Recently, we took another important step to improve our privacy practices by announcing a new policy to anonymize our server logs after 18 to 24 months, becoming the first leading search company to publish a data retention policy. We also posted here to explain the factors that guided our decision to retain server log data for 18 to 24 months.

In the spirit of transparency, we're publishing our response to the Working Party's letter.

How Long Should Google Remember Searches? [googleblog.blogspot.com]

Earlier [webmasterworld.com...]

12:20 pm on June 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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They previously have stated that they had anonmized logs from 18-24 months (now, they say 18 for sure) and they said they were thinking about considering reducing its cookie expiration time.

It's the old, nondenial denial. There is no change in policy here.

2:29 pm on June 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Google can get away with this because they haven't actually done anything to substantially inconvenience the general public, and things like privacy policies are relatively obscure in most people's minds. People just aren't very interested in this, even though they should be.

If you ask the average person in the street what gets their vote in an election, privacy will be way way down the list compared to law and order, health, transport etc.

3:18 pm on June 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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We also firmly reject any suggestions that we could meet our legitimate interests in security, innovation and anti-fraud efforts with any retention period shorter than 18 months

Why is that?

5:11 pm on June 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Unfortunately, the primary media coverage on Google is Western-nation centric.

Google has much further reach, and needs to extend these implied privacy protections.

After her China incident, I am doubtful Google can do "no evil" (i.e. she does do evil).

[edited by: Tapolyai at 5:12 pm (utc) on June 12, 2007]

5:14 pm on June 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I'd be amazed they would delete them at all. The only good thing about Google, is they do not cow tail to the US government, only the Chinese government.
10:27 pm on June 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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It isn't as simple as "greedy, nosy Google wants to retain data 18 months." At least, not according to this article [iht.com] in the INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE:

The Google privacy official notes that the national data retention policies of individual European nations vary from six months to 24 months, depending on the country.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice has called for a 24-month data retention period, he notes. And post-Enron corporate reforms call for U.S. businesses to retain data for substantial periods.

That isn't to say that Google may not benefit from retaining search data for 18 months or some other period of time. But in the real world, Google probably doesn't have any choice.

10:45 pm on June 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Just change the privacy policy to something simple:

We retain and use your data for any length and any purpose we see fit. You have been warned.

Thank You.