Over the years Google has said that the information stored about users’ searches is instrumental in the innovation and development of new products and up until 2007 Google stored user data for as long as it felt the information was useful. The company last year introduced a deadline of anonymity for all stored user data and announced that after 18-24 months, it would anonymize the search logs.
Google today announced that the 18-24 month deadline has now been reduced to just nine months following pressure from regulators in the European Union and the United States. However, just because Google has shortened the retention period, that doesn’t mean the search giant is happy about it.
In an official blog post Google said that aside from being an essential ingredient for innovation, retention of user data was also necessary to improve security, fight fraud and reduce spam. The blog went on to say that when Google began anonymizing after 18 months, it knew it meant sacrifices in future innovations but that further reducing the period before anonymizing would “degrade the utility of the data too much and outweigh the incremental privacy benefit for users.”
The blog finished on a glum tone. Signed off by Peter Fleischer, Global Privacy Counsel; Jane Horvath, Senior Privacy Counsel; and Alma Whitten, Software Engineer, the three stated that while they were glad it would bring improved levels of privacy, they were “concerned about the potential loss of security, quality, and innovation that may result from having less data.”
Read the full blog here.