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EU Advisors Say Search Engines Must Cut Data Retention Time

   
9:13 am on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. and other Internet search-engine providers must cut the time they retain users' online records to comply with European Union privacy laws, advisors to regulators decided Friday.

Privacy-protection officials from the 27 EU nations unanimously adopted proposals that may force search engines to change the way they store data unless there is "a valid justification." The officials decided after a two-day meeting in Brussels that the maximum time for keeping search data is six months.

EU Advisors Say Search Engines Must Cut Data Retention Time
[latimes.com]

10:46 am on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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would that apply to U.S.A. users?
12:05 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't think so just the EU countries.

RJ

12:24 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Privacy-protection officials from the 27 EU nations unanimously

Unanimously means all countries, including the Netherlands. They measure by two standards obviously. In the Netherlands they are trying to pass a law that requires all Dutch ISPs to store records of all internet traffic for a period of two years.

How can you forbid search engines to store information longer than six months, where at the same time you require local ISPs to store even more information for a two year period?

12:30 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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where at the same time you require local ISPs to store even more information for a two year period?

Could be to help stop some crime? Sure is an odd one?

1:04 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Could be to help stop some crime?

Yes, it is because of the fight against terrorism. They are already storing all SMS messages and want to also store information about normal telephony, internet activity, email activity, voip etc. Dutch parliament wanted to talk about it last thursday, but it has been postponed.

I have no idea how the privacy problems of the search query databases of search engines will ever come close to the privacy issues associated with storing and combining all these information.

2:28 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This 'ruling' is utterly ridiculous. Privacy concerns aside, historical data is vital to the proper development and functioning of search engines. Used well, the data can save everyone time and increase productivity - something the EU needs given the current economic climate.

I think I'll write to The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and ask for EU Beaurocrats to be included with the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation 'when the revolution comes'.

7:03 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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This 'ruling' is utterly ridiculous. Privacy concerns aside, historical data is vital to the proper development and functioning of search engines.

I think there is a distinction to be made here. Historical search data is not the problem, it is the tie between the data and the user's identity. That tie is what needs to be broken.

I think everyone would agree that historical search data that is not linked to any user would no longer be considered personal information.

7:20 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Privacy online is a myth anyway, or at least it should be treated that way, so the decision won't change much.

I just signed on to beta test a brand new product from a major internet player, when I visited my control panel it was FULL of information about me that I never revealed in the signup. Creepy.

11:27 pm on Apr 6, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Online privacy ranks right up there with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.
5:16 am on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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From the article:

"a valid justification."

and

search engines must delete personal information "the moment they don't need it."

There are endless, entirely valid, justifcations for needing to keep user data for more than 6 months... So unless I'm misreading the article it doesn't sound like this will necessarily change anything at all.

6:10 am on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I think what they mean by "personal information" is form-related personal addresses, emails, phone numbers, etc... SE's don't "need" this information anyhow - and I frankly don't really see how they can get it: none of that should stay anywhere on the web unless its owner publishes it himself or agrees to have it published (forums, etc). Anyhow, how in the *$%& are they going to comb and filter this sort of information from the rest?
7:10 am on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Your information gets compromised when major companies you deal with for email (example) buy other internet assets you use (like social networks, video sites etc).

You've never given the social sites all of your information, but when it's merged with the email provider - it shows up on the social network which deals with other social networks.

All of the major social networks are either owned by or have popular apps designed for the major internet companies.

Perhaps it's time to ditch gmail and yahoo! email addresses, unless you want all your info on feedburner, mybloglog etc...

3:33 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I think I'll write to The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy and ask for EU Beaurocrats to be included with the Marketing Division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation 'when the revolution comes'.

I think the EU is all hopped up on Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters to begin with anyway. They can't force Google to do this short of banning it from their ISPs, and nobody would really stand for that.

The point is, nobody really cares about online privacy anymore, with exception of their credit card and social security numbers. We're all used to the spam, pop-ups, offers, etc by now. Online privacy is the car alarm of the 21st century.

7:31 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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>>I think the EU is all hopped up on Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters to begin with anyway. They can't force Google to do this short of banning it from their ISPs, and nobody would really stand for that.

Can't they? What about the 11 million euro a day fine the Belgians imposed on Google News? Google reacted pretty sharply to that one.

8:03 pm on Apr 7, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Touche.

But that was a little different. All Google had to do on that was remove links to news sources. That would be an easy decision on my part too. If the Belgians don't want traffic to their news sources, who cares?

But in this case Google relies on this data to make pertinent decisions on how to move forward. And it is across the entire EU. I would be hard pressed to believe that such a broad policy can be enforced properly.

What is stopping Google from taking this information and storing it overseas here? The EU certainly can't request information stored in US databanks.

Of course, I could be completely wrong. But it seems silly to use online privacy as a reason against storing age old traffic data. Granted, I can sort of see the reason against it for personal information, but what's the difference if it's 6 months or 6 years?

10:35 am on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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The EU can still fine Google for mishandling the data for Europeans (even if they try to hide it on foreign servers).

They are far more powerful than any company, they can start with fines and if that does not work then they can start jailing the Directors of the business and blocking them at the ISP level.

Google will do what ever the EU says, they know that they have to abide by the EU rules if they want to do business there. The EU is a very large market, approx the same size or bigger than the US market (especially if this recession takes hold).

7:45 pm on Apr 8, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Didn't google have to bow to the Brazilians about Orkut data? And fudge searches for China? You have to respect governments if you want access to their markets.