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Raises anonymisation bar

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Yahoo! has taken Microsoft’s demands for internet giants to slash the time they keep online search query data to six months, and raised it by anonymising most of the info after just 90 days.

The search engine firm announced today that it would decrease its data retention from a standard of around 13 months to three months for most of its users. However, it will keep data for up to six months if fraud or security breaches are involved, said Yahoo!.

"This policy represents Yahoo!'s assessment of the minimum amount of time we need to retain data in order to respond to the needs of our business while deepening our trusted relationship with users," said Yahoo! policy and privacy chief Anne Toth. "We're proud this new policy sets a new benchmark for the industry."

In recent months European regulators have been grumbling about the amount time of the likes of Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft store user data garnered from web searches.

Just last week Microsoft said it would only agree to European demands to cut the time it keeps online search query data if Google and Yahoo! adopted the same methods.

Google has long argued that keeping the data meant it could offer improved services and cope better with combating fraud and spam.

However, in September this year Google agreed to half the amount of time it retains IP addresses and user data taken from search query logs. The internet kingpin said it would anonymise IP addresses on its server logs after nine months “to address regulatory concerns to take another step to improve privacy for our users”. ®

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