Cisco Logs Onto WebEx, Google to Anonymize Search Data
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according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, back at the Google search ranch the Googlers have gotten that privacy religion, announcing that they will now anonymize server log data after 18 to 24 months (well, which is it? 18 or 24??)
Though the U.S. Department of Justice wouldn't necessarily agree, to my mind this was a step in the right direction.
I've thought for many Internet years that Google was sitting on a virtual personal data nuclear bomb with respect to the storing of users' search data -- remember the AOL search snafu from last year when several heads rolled down the hill in Virginia?
My feeling has always been this: Why should I be any less anonymous using a search engine than I am walking into a public library or bookstore and browsing the stacks?
And yet, until this announcement, the policy was that the log data was kept "as long as it was useful," which seemed to suggest that my search data with Google could be directly tied back to my IP address and, therefore, to my ISP, and, ultimately, to me at anytime.
Now, that data will be anonymized every 18 to 24 months, except where Google could be required to keep it longer for legal reasons (there have been several bills floated in the U.S. Congress that would require ISPs to store search data by law for various requisite periods of time).
Noted search expert Danny Sullivan has a full run down on this important policy change here. If you have any interest in becoming more educated about how Google works and what data it collects, I highly recommend you read Danny's post.
It's especially noteworthy that the log changes will not alter an individual user's personalized search history. As Sullivan points out, this information will NOT be destroyed or anonymized over time. So, proceed using Google's personalized search with caution.
You can then decide for yourself whether or not Google has gone far enough. Personally, I've long been a big fan of Google, and I'd hate to see privacy become their ball-and-chain.