Now Microsoft willing to reduce storage time

Wed 24 December 2008 09:28, Bas van den Beld

Now Microsoft willing to reduce storage time

After Google and Yahoo now Microsoft, the third big player in the search engine market, has announced its willing to reduce the time it stores the data gathered by searches from its users.

Microsoft has said it wrote a letter to the advisory panel set up by the European commission to look at the privacy-issues concerning the storage of data. The panel suggested earlier this year that all search engines should retain data no longer than 6 months.

Until now Microsoft was holding data for 18 months. Google reduced the storage of their data to six months earlier this year. Yahoo followed by reducing their storage to 9 months, but anonymising it after three months.

Microsoft always said it would only reduce the time it stores the data when its competitors would too. They were afraid of ‘commercial disadvantage’. However by waiting longer than its competitors it has now tried to turn it into an advantage.

Microsoft still is asking the European Commission to keep a close eye on others when it comes to controlling whether or not the recommendations are followed. Google for now has said it won’t go any further than the six months they are storing now.

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Search engines use the stored data to improve their search results. They also use it to built up profiles of their users to provide them with more targeted adds. This week Oxford Internet Institute senior research fellow Ian Brown claims search engines can use different techniques to get the same results. He says search engines could use systems which could serve up related ads without having to retain data for a longer period.

With the privacy-issues becoming more and more a big issue in Europe chances are search engines are forced to take a different approach to the matter. Anyone who can develop a method with which related ads can be served without retaining data can be one of the most successful companies in 2009…


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