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Yahoo to hold personal search data now for 18 months

Yahoo have stated that they are going to keep records of their user’s search engine queries for at least 18 months. This has abandoned an earlier policy in which it only held data for 3 months.

This retention of search engine terms, which can call upon financial issues or other personal data has been a point of debate now for a long time over digital privacy standards. Yahoo have said that their decision to do this was to keep pace with online competitors.

Anne Toth, a policy executive at Yahoo, wrote in a blog post “Over the past several years it’s clear that the Internet has changed, our business has changed, and the competitive landscape has changed. We have gone back to the drawing board to ensure that our policies will support the innovative products we want to deliver for our consumers.”

Sadly for Toth, she announced in 2008 that keeping this data for only three months would set Yahoo apart from the competitors and build trust with the companies user base. This announcement didn’t really make much difference however, because Yahoo’s share of the search engine business is slowly declining, dropping from 20% in late 2008 to 16% in March 2011.

Google are dominating this market with around 66% of U.S. searches and they have a similar 18 month retention policy. After the 18 month time frame it applies some changes to the data to make it more difficult to ascertain which users performed the original search. The company however does not specify in their privacy policy the exact way by which they remove or clean the records.

Microsoft said that after 18 months they remove information from search logs that could identify users, including IP addresses.

KitGuru says: Are Yahoo destined to continue losing market search to competitors?

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