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The search company may be breaking European law by keeping search records too long

The European Union's data protection watchdog, known as the Article 29 Working Group, has issued a letter warning Google that its data retention policies may be in violation of EU laws.

The BBC reports that EU data protection commissioners who serve on the Article 29 panel are concerned about the search giant's practice of keeping personal search records for two years.

Google tracks and stores all queries, associating search terms and history with individual users based on their unique IP address. While the company has stated that the records are used to monitor and improve its search-related services, critics charge that the data could be used to profile users and pry into their personal lives.

The EU effort to reign in Google's privacy policies has the backing of the Union's Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini, who has affirmed that he "considers those questions raised by the letter to be appropriate and legitimate," according to an EU spokesman.

A Google spokeswoman confirmed that the EU privacy group is concerned about the company "keeping information about people's search for a definite period of time ranging from 18 to 24 months." She told the BBC that Google plans to address the EU complaints prior to the data protection panel's next meeting in late June.



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WHY vs WHY NOT
By crystal clear on 5/26/2007 9:42:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
A Google spokeswoman confirmed that the EU privacy group is concerned about the company "keeping information about people's search for a definite period of time ranging from 18 to 24 months."


This could be considered like an official response from Google & an explaination-

quote:
Why does Google remember information about searches?


5/11/2007 11:21:00 AM
Posted by Peter Fleischer, Global Privacy Counsel

We recently announced a new policy to anonymize our server logs after 18–24 months. We’re the only leading search company to have taken this step publicly. We believe it’s an important part of our commitment to respect user privacy while balancing a number of important factors.

In developing this policy, we spoke with various privacy advocates, regulators and others about how long they think the period should be. There is a wide spectrum of views on this – some think data should be preserved for longer, others think it should be anonymized almost immediately. We spent a great deal of time sorting this out and thought we’d explain some of the things that prompted us to decide on 18-24 months.

Three factors were critical. One was maintaining our ability to continue to improve the quality of our search services. Another was to protect our systems and our users from fraud and abuse. The third was complying—and anticipating compliance—with possible data retention requirements. Here’s a bit more about each of these:

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/05/why-does-go...




RE: WHY vs WHY NOT
By crystal clear on 5/28/2007 1:16:06 AM , Rating: 2
STRANGE-

The EU does not ask "Yahoo! and Microsoft ! to clarify their data retention practices and policies".

Why !


"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes











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