July 24, 2007

Search, Privacy and the FTC [7:32 am]

Search Engines Tighten Privacypdf

Online search companies Google, Yahoo, Ask.com and Microsoft are tightening their privacy policies in the face of mounting public, congressional and regulatory agency concern about the vast amounts of personal data they gather and store.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced it would make all data on search queries anonymous after 18 months. This week, Yahoo is to outline plans to make a user’s search history anonymous within 13 months. On Friday, Ask.com said users could ask the firm not to retain their Web searches.

Google, which faces the most scrutiny, announced in March that it would begin to make search-query data anonymous after 18 to 24 months. Last week, the company said it would shorten the lifespan of cookies, which are small files attached to a user’s browser. A further refinement of its privacy policy is expected soon.

The moves come as the Federal Trade Commission signaled that it might take action to modify or block Google’s $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick, a major online advertising company. [...]

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