Yahoo! Shortens Data Retention Period

A little while back Google announced that it was reducing the amount of time before it anonymizes users’ data in half, meaning your search data would only be associated with your IP address for nine months before being made anonymous. In a similar move, one likely to see pressure for Google to do the same, Yahoo! has announced that the company will be keeping user data for just three months.

The new policy will see Yahoo! anonymize user log data within 90 days (limited exceptions for fraud, security and legal obligations) with page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks included in the policy. Yahoo! said in a statement that the decision was all art of the company’s endeavor to maintain user trust.

“In our world of customized online services, responsible use of data is critical to establishing and maintaining user trust,” said Anne Toth, Yahoo!’s Vice President of Policy and Head of Privacy. “We know that our users expect relevant and compelling content and advertising when they visit Yahoo!, but they also want assurances that we are focused on protecting their privacy.”

Back in September when Google made a similar announcement, the company seemed less elated to give the news. In a blog post, the Mountain View company was quick to say that it felt the retention of user data was paramount for innovation and there was an air of defeat as the company said it would be cutting the retention period from 19-24 months, to just nine.

Innovation aside, Google also said that user data was essential if the company was going 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.” Yahoo! has announced this new policy as an “industry-leading approach” to user data privacy but it’ll be interesting to see if Google is willing to let up on its 9 month retention period.

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  • Tindytim
    And why does Google need the IP addresses in order to correlate the information?

    Seems odd to me.
  • hellwig
    Oh Tindytim, they need your IP address to better tie their on-page ads to your last 18 months of searches. By knowing that 18-months ago you searched for summer vacation destinations, they can provide better ads for your latest query on cold remedies. Google is a lot smarter than we, the simple computer users, so we have to trust they know better than we do.

    To be more serious, I also don't understand why they need IPs. They process millions of queries and ads a second, so I can't imagine any single user could do anything to scew their algorithms in any meaningful way. I mean sure, they need to make sure that someone isn't scamming their Ads by sending thousands of clicks a second to a competitors link, but why they need to maintain that information for more than a day is unknown to me.
  • Claimintru
    IP's are used for regional datamining. Makes it easier to monitor whats going on , and has been going on in specific areas of the nation/world