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Author Topic: Other search engines join Google in EU privacy probe  (Read 1643 times)

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Amker

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Other search engines join Google in EU privacy probe
« on: 23. June 2007., 14:22:59 »
The European Union has decided to extend its investigation into the length of time that Internet search logs are stored to other search engines beyond Google. The EU's privacy working group has said that it is concerned over how much data is retained by various search engines and whether or not that information could get into the hands of hackers or overzealous governments. "The Working Party will deal with search engines in general and scrutinize their activities from a data-protection point of view, because this issue affects an ever-growing number of users," the EU said in a statement issued yesterday.

Previously, the EU had been pressuring Google over its data retention practices. Google had been keeping search data with full IP addresses for 24 months, which the EU working group said was too long and posed privacy risks to Internet surfers. Google attempted to placate the EU earlier this month by offering to anonymize its data after 18 months but maintained that future laws may require the company to keep the data for longer. Under Google's current solution, the logs will still be kept, but the IP addresses associated with them would be scrambled permanently after 18 months, making it impossible for anyone (including Google) to associate the information with the original users.

The EU panel said that it still needs to analyze Google's response to see whether it's an acceptable solution, and has asked Google several new questions about technologies that they use to collect search information.

Microsoft told the Wall Street Journal that although the company is aware of the EU's privacy concerns, it has not yet engaged in any formal discussions with the working group over its own search engine. "We recognize that online search is creating legitimate concerns about privacy and are actively engaged with data protection authorities around the world to ensure that our practices meet the highest standards when it comes to protecting privacy," said Microsoft's Peter Cullen in a statement to the WSJ.

If search engines like Google, MSN, and Yahoo don't satisfy the EU's requirements for privacy, they may either have to cut down even further on the time before anonymizing (or trashing) records. It's either that or fines from the EU until they figure out some way to comply with the EU's requests—hopefully they won't face the Microsoft treatment. However, various officials in the US have been pushing for laws that would require search engines to retain data for even longer—up to two years. If those officials succeed in their campaigns, then the search engines could be forced to manage different requirements in the US and EU.
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Other search engines join Google in EU privacy probe
« on: 23. June 2007., 14:22:59 »




 

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