Print 14 comment(s) - last by muuher.. on Mar 18 at 5:44 PM

Google to make search logs anonymous after 18 to 24 months

Google is changing its policies on storing information about its users. Each time a user conducts a search on Google, a database logs his or her keyword search, IP address and certain other bits of data stored in cookies. Currently, this information is stored indefinitely, but the new policy, which Google plans to implement over the next few months, will make the data slightly more anonymous to protect the privacy of its users.

“Previously, we kept this data for as long as it was useful,” Google officials said in statement. “Unless we're legally required to retain log data for longer, we will anonymize our server logs after a limited period of time.”

Google says it will remove the last eight bits of a user’s IP address 18 months to 24 months following the initial recording of information. All the bits before it, however, will remain intact and may still give authorities good indication on the original user. Even with the last eight bits of an IP address unknown, it is still possible to determine the approximate location and internet service provider of the user.

“Logs anonymization does not guarantee that the government will not be able to identify a specific computer or user, but it does add another layer of privacy protection to our users' data,” Google said to the media.

The U.S. government has been putting pressure on search companies to keep records of user activities in an effort to maintain national security. Privacy advocates, on the other hand, are pushing in the opposite direction and lobby for companies such as Google to maintain no records at all.

“By anonymizing our server logs after 18-24 months, we think we're striking the right balance between two goals: continuing to improve Google's services for you, while providing more transparency and certainty about our retention practices,” the Google statement said.

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By xsilver on 3/15/2007 10:32:24 PM , Rating: 5
i wasnt explicitly even aware that google kept logs of people but I guess they need to in order to customize those ads.

problem is, people that are going to type "how to make a bomb" or "kiddie pr0n" on google search aren't exactly masterminds at their game and probably deserve to get caught.

RE: logs
By spartan014 on 3/15/2007 11:12:27 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you. People who rely on google for normal use need not worry about it at all.

But I too didn't know that they were keeping the records for indefinite period. Well, doesn't make much of a difference...

RE: logs
By mezman on 3/16/2007 2:51:49 PM , Rating: 1
people that are going to type "how to make a bomb" or "kiddie pr0n" on google search aren't exactly masterminds at their game and probably deserve to get caught.

Meaning that only low IQ criminals deserve to get caught? Now, simpletons like those you list are more likely to get caught though use of Google records but every criminal, even savvy ones, deserve to get caught.

By boing on 3/16/2007 4:51:25 AM , Rating: 3
i hate this attitude that if you're doing nothing wrong you have nothing to hide. When you go home at night do you close the blinds when you turn on the lights? If so what are you hiding?

Nothing of course, but it is a fundamental human requirement to have some level of pricay, we need it just like we need laughter and social contact but it's being continually eroded. This is a good step, the uk is rapidly moving to a total surveillance state, i'm grateful for a minor victory for privacy.

RE: Good
By peternelson on 3/16/2007 6:02:15 PM , Rating: 3
When I come home and turn on the interior lights, I DO close my blinds.

What I have to hide is a large quantity of expensive computer and electronics equipment, that I don't want to be lit up and easily visible to would-be burglars outside the house.

So far this strategy has avoided any of it being stolen.

It's not worth insuring eg £20K network analyser, a fusion splicer for fibre optics etc because the premiums would be crazy.

Also some stuff is custom made by me and not easily replaceable.

So, yes, I do have some things to hide ;-)

RE: Good
By muuher on 3/18/2007 5:44:52 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't the same logic apply online? i.e. not wanting to keep personal data online to keep it from being stolen?

Lease IP changes
By Senju on 3/15/2007 11:20:19 PM , Rating: 2
But IP address can change all the time and not just the last part either. Also, the google I have, is use several computers in different locations so I do not know how they can trace me. Sometimes I borrow a laptop for a day and log on....and never use that machine again, etc. The only thing that is my account I have an google account that has my Links, bookmarks, gmail, which they can access I guess because that account is on their servers. I can even do a goggle search from my phone so....

RE: Lease IP changes
By spartan014 on 3/15/2007 11:50:06 PM , Rating: 2
It is never said that it is possible to track every individual user. Google does this so that when need arises, authorities will have the knowledge where to start looking..

RE: Lease IP changes
By ScythedBlade on 3/18/2007 10:39:21 AM , Rating: 3
MAC Addresses don't change do they? They could always use that...

By White Widow on 3/16/2007 4:29:28 AM , Rating: 4
Anyone who really doesn't want Google keeping info on them could simply use a proxy server outside the US and keep cookies disabled.

RE: Proxy
By peternelson on 3/16/2007 5:56:56 PM , Rating: 2
Flash can also be used to track users (in the same way cookies do but works with cookies disabled).

Just so you know and can take adequate steps to secure your privacy (or at least know you are being tracked).

Google to Develop a Short Term Memory
By oTAL on 3/16/2007 11:10:36 AM , Rating: 3
The name of the product has been revealed:

Not a suitable anonymiser
By peternelson on 3/16/2007 5:54:59 PM , Rating: 3
Well, dropping the last 8 bits from the IP address will do absolutely nothing to anonymise someone using static IP and who has their own Class C (256 addresses) or larger.

As others use either dynamic IP and/or smaller ranges, this is unnecessarily descriminating. ie small users get good privacy (after the period) whereas serious users don't get anonymised. This is discriminatory practice.

Google should come up with a scheme which gives all users similar levels of anonymity.

Those doing naughty things and searches will likely have the sense to bounce their IP through a network of anonymising servers, but I don't want to bother with that for routine searching.

So, they really ought to just drop the IP field entirely and not keep any of it.

Also their are other methods to track users and sessions eg cookies and certain flash files can be used to identify even if the IP is ignored or discarded.

It's gunna be embarrassing...
By Bladen on 3/16/07, Rating: 0
"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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