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Print 4 comment(s) - last by omnicronx.. on Aug 10 at 8:50 AM

Search engines, previously used to hoard user data, now praised for deleting it

A new report released this week by the Center for Democracy & Technology compares the largest search companies’ privacy policies and calls for further regulation.

The first section of the six-page report (PDF), available off CDT’s website, gives quick summaries of the data retention policies for Google, Yahoo!, MSN Search, Ask.com and AOL Search as detailed in their privacy policies. Since many of the search engines are in the process of revamping their own retention policies, the comparison also lists the status of each company’s policies, and if they are undergoing change, when the new policy is expected to take effect.

While search companies have improved their retention policies compared to a year ago, several companies still retain data that circumstantially could be used to identify a particular user. As evidenced by last year’s data leak courtesy of AOL, in some cases all one needs to ascertain someone’s identity is a history of their search terms and an identifier linking them together.

While nearly every company sampled will keep records of search requests, all companies sampled take at least minimal effort in obscuring the query’s source, but only after the deletion date. It remains to be seen whether or not removing portions of the user’s IP address and cookie ID can sufficiently protect their identity.

Notably, AOL retains the least information, keeping all records for 13 months and then purging everything except an aggregated list of queries. Ask.com also offers the AskEraser service, where all collected data is purged within hours.

The final part of the report, comprising of the last four pages, analyzes policies in more detail and provides suggestions on further action. While many of the suggestions are vague, it does highlight several engines’ data-sharing agreement with Google, used for advertising purposes, and praises the agreements’ contractually enforced privacy clauses.

There is also a strong emphasis on the need for legislative regulation, as “no amount of self-regulation in the search privacy space can replace the need for a comprehensive federal privacy law to protect consumers from bad actors. With consumers sharing more data than ever before online, the time has come to harmonize our nation’s privacy laws into a simple, flexible framework.”



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Foreign jobs
By rdeegvainl on 8/10/07, Rating: 0
RE: Foreign jobs
By rdeegvainl on 8/10/2007 2:16:15 AM , Rating: 2
Something i meant to put in my first post, what about people putting information of foreign servers, what about foreign search engines. this won't make things unavailable, just uncontrolled by American self regulatory morals.
also a national privacy law such as touted would not be simple or flexible, but stiff and easily broken or worked into so many technicalities that it is essentially broken, like mosteverything else.


RE: Foreign jobs
By tdktank59 on 8/10/2007 2:26:46 AM , Rating: 2
I dont belive they are saying delete it seconds after the user searches i think they are saying either encrypt or delete part or all of the "finger print" to the user that is search to protect us.

Ill also be the devils advicate and state the other side of the story.

Every time we search google, ask, aol what ever the site is. They take the data we search for lets say "Cars" for instance. Now from the search they see what is related to it for the ads. (along the right and top on google) From those ads thats where they get there money (now a few other places but before they bought the 13 other companies (numbers may vary lol) thats where they got there money from (my dad turned down a job there cause they pretty much want you to live on site)).

Either way google uses the information to make money by showing relavant ads for people (us) to click on.

They share this information with others to make what we search for more accurate and up to date so we dont spend 4 million years trying to find a picture or some hot babe next to a sexy car.


RE: Foreign jobs
By omnicronx on 8/10/2007 8:50:14 AM , Rating: 3
What does Google's add revenue have to do with our privacy? if they are keeping information that at anytime is accessible by someone who should not have access, they should not be able to keep it, plain and simple. If Google can guarantee our privacy, then nobody would have a problem. Google has to bend for the law, the law doesn't have to bend for Google.


"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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