Feeds

EU demands Google slashes cookie retention times

Six months is more than enough

High performance access to file storage

An influential EC policy group, the Article 29 Working Party, is calling on search engines to delete users' cookies within six months - a much shorter period than that typically used by Google, MSN, and Yahoo!

Google volunteered to anonymise information held after 18 to 24 months following earlier EC concerns. After further negotiations with Article 29 this was lowered to 18 months. So the information was still kept but it did not include anything that could identify individuals.

Article 29 is made up of privacy regulators from member states - the UK is represented by Information Commissioner Richard Thomas. The review of search engines comes from an article, in English, on the Dutch Data Protection Authority website following the group's meeting in Brussels last week.

Although the group's advice is not binding it is likely to be broadly adopted by the European Commission.

The Working Party finds that search engines are covered by the Data Protection Directive. They must delete or anonymise personal data "once they are no longer necessary for the purpose for which they were collected". Search engines must also inform users of any third party use of their data.

The Working Party also warns that any "enrichment" of user profiles, with data not provided by the users, needs those users' consent.

Google says it keeps the information in order to improve search results - by identifying what you have previously searched for it can do a better job of fine-tuning future search results. It is also, of course, useful for targeting advertising.

On its public policy blog Google repeated the importance of data logs to improving its search service claiming that: "Today, a Google search is far more likely to provide you with the information you're looking for that it did a few years ago."

The search giant also disagreed with the policy group's view that IP addresses should be treated as personal information. Google blogged: "Based on our own analysis, we believe that whether or not an IP address is personal data depends on how the data is being used.".

Google wants the benefits of data warehousing - improvements in services - to be included in discussions of user privacy. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.