Print 18 comment(s) - last by typo101.. on Jun 14 at 7:14 PM

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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RE: Tragedy
By imaheadcase on 6/14/2007 12:20:20 AM , Rating: 1
It amazes me that Google will even bow to the EU, like how the heck does EU "rule" on anything google does. They are not based in the EU, thats like China saying Google has to turn over all the data they have or they can't be used in China. *google does a virtual mooning to China* case closed.

RE: Tragedy
By Treckin on 6/14/2007 1:13:53 AM , Rating: 4
Wow... That was great *rolls eyes*

It was a letter of request to google, not a demand.

I believe what people are missing here is that simply having your IP rotated does not automatically mean that " on x/x/2007 accessed" in not traceable. If the FBI called Comcast with a date, IP, and search warrant, Comcast definitely holds records of each subscribers IP history.

The data is important to google because its their money maker; they make their 12 billion a quarter or whatever on advertising and effectiveness of said.
The more data they hold on you personally, the better they understand what you look at; corvettes, Penis enlargement pills, The Chicago Bears, etc.
Also, they use algorithms to collude this data, generating a 'best guess' of your interests, based often on the things that others like you or with like interests click and view, how long, etc.

RE: Tragedy
By FITCamaro on 6/14/2007 4:40:05 PM , Rating: 2
I think the point is that the EU does make plenty of demands to US based companies.

To answer his question, no they can't make them change it since the EU doesn't block anything on the net. However, China can because they'll just block their citizens from using Google. They have the most sophisticated web filtering and web blocking technology in the world and can block anything they want. Google wouldn't like that considering thats billions of dollars in ad revenue.

I personally am sick of the EU deciding that it can tell companies how to sell their products.

RE: Tragedy
By typo101 on 6/14/2007 7:08:56 PM , Rating: 2
So the EU asked google to change how long they keep their logs... isn't privacy a big issue for Americans too? What am I missing here?

Its not like they are the RIAA or MPAA. How many special interest groups out there make demands of all kinds of companies (often splitting hairs just because they can or to set a precedent)?

"If you mod me down, I will become more insightful than you can possibly imagine." -- Slashdot
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