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New move from Yahoo should help further privacy on the internet

One major concern in the tech community is the loss of privacy on the internet.  With the internet being increasingly used as a site for personal activity and business, such loss is worrisome to many.  Search providers store vast amounts of personal information based on your web browsing practices, which some fear could be used against them for medical discrimination or other malefic uses if the information fell into the wrong hands.

In September, Google, who is one of the largest collectors of such information, announced an initiative to make its user logs anonymous after only 9 months.  Now Yahoo has one-upped Google by announcing that it will anonymize its own user data stockpile after only 90 days.

It will anonymize data on page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks anonymous as well as its user logs after the 90 day time frame.  It says it will make exceptions in cases of "fraud, security and legal obligations".

Yahoo had previously been on a 13-month purge time-frame, installed July 2007.  Anne Toth, Yahoo's head of privacy, saw the new move as a way to outcompete Google, while maintaining the data critical to Yahoo's business.  She and Yahoo made the decision after careful review of the company's worldwide data collecting practices.

The company describes exceptions to the new policy, stating:

To protect users and our business partners, there will be some specific and limited exceptions to the anonymization policy. In order to fight fraud and preserve system security, Yahoo will retain system specific data in identifiable form for no more than 6 months -- but only for this purpose. Yahoo may have to retain data for longer periods to meet other legal obligations.

The new development offers perhaps the most compelling argument to date for users to switch from Google to Yahoo, a key development, considering that Yahoo has been losing market share to Google for much of this year



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Anonymize How?
By MozeeToby on 12/17/2008 12:55:04 PM , Rating: 5
That can mean a lot of different things, depending on what they want it to mean. Neither the article here nor the linked article really say.

Ideally, it means that queries are no longer associated with one another in any way. That's really the only way to prevent at least some poeple from being identified. If they attach a randomized ID to each set of queries (with one person having the same ID over the time period) it can still cause problems.

Remember when AOL released their search records by accident? Even with random ID's attached to the queries it was possible to get at least some names and SSN out of the data.




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