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Google responds to the EU by dropping six months of logs

Following criticism from privacy groups, Google is again revising its policy on how long its servers will retain search data generated from users of its websites. Under its new policy, Google will anonymize its log data after 18 months.

The move was fuelled by a letter from the European Union in May, warning the search giant that its data retention policies may be in violation of EU laws. Months earlier, in March, Google said that it was changing its practice from keeping user data indefinitely to only 18 to 24 months. After that period, Google would remove the last eight bits of a user’s IP address, with all the remaining bits retained for the purpose of approximating user information for authorities.

In this latest change, Google will cut its retention by up to eight months by keeping logs for a maximum of 18 months. Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel for Google, writes in the official blog, “The Article 29 Working Party, an advisory panel composed of representatives from all of the E.U.'s national data protection authorities, has sent us a letter in response to our commitment to anonymize server logs. In it, they're asking us to provide further information about our new policy, and to explain why we feel that the time period of 18 to 24 months is ‘proportionate’ under European data protection principles.”

Google explained to the EU that its server logs are used to improve its search algorithms, defending systems from attacks, protecting users from spam, phishing and to respond and aid law enforcement.

“After considering the Working Party's concerns, we are announcing a new policy: to anonymize our search server logs after 18 months, rather than the previously-established period of 18 to 24 months. We believe that we can still address our legitimate interests in security, innovation and anti-fraud efforts with this shorter period,” writes Fleischer. “However, we must point out that future data retention laws may obligate us to raise the retention period to 24 months. We also firmly reject any suggestions that we could meet our legitimate interests in security, innovation and anti-fraud efforts with any retention period shorter than 18 months.”

Fleischer also says that the company is considering the Working Party's concerns regarding cookie expiration periods, and will make an announcement on its new and improved digital baked goods in the coming months.

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By UnFaZeD on 6/13/2007 10:20:09 PM , Rating: 1
If the ISP itself deletes logs of the ip-to-account assignment after 30 days (as most do) what will Google gain by storing the IP for 18 months?

RE: BS...
By aGreenAgent on 6/13/2007 10:43:39 PM , Rating: 1
I can't think of an ISP that would delete its IP to account data after 30 unless they're dial-up. On my cable modem, I get my IP for 8-9 months at a time.

RE: BS...
By alifbaa on 6/13/2007 11:13:23 PM , Rating: 2
I've had mine since I began my service. That was almost 2 years ago. I'm sure if I called and asked, they'd change it, but they clearly don't have a program to do so automatically.

RE: BS...
By Christopher1 on 6/13/2007 11:43:47 PM , Rating: 2
That's about right. My IP address has changed 4 times in the 3 years I have had my cable internet service.

So about every 8-9 months is right, however Comcast had told me that they only keep the BAREST minimum of information about where I web surf, coming from working for them for a very short time 3 months ago.

They only keep IP logs of where you go and where you surf for 1 month, usually, the detailed logs anyway. After that, they just keep the name of the site you went to, and when you went to it. Nothing else.

RE: BS...
By MobileZone on 6/13/2007 11:59:15 PM , Rating: 1
I like Google (with it's cookie very blocked in my machine)!

RE: BS...
By MobileZone on 6/14/2007 12:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, just block your cookie. Problem solved. Do not use gmail for personal things. Move to Yahoo, Ask, Altavista, Live. Rate me.

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