Internet giant Yahoo! this week said that it would limit the time it retains personal data collected during Web searches from 13 months to just 90 days. The change will likely pressure Google and Microsoft to follow suit; both companies currently retain personal data for 18 months.
"The collection and use of personal data demand that we take great care in managing and storing it," Yahoo! vice president Anne Toth wrote in the company's corporate blog. "We are now reducing our retention time to 90 days with limited exceptions for fraud, security, and legal obligations. We're also expanding our commitment to include data on page views, page clicks, ad views, and ad clicks."
Microsoft last week announced that it was willing to cut its search data retention to as little as 6 months (or 180 days), but only if both Google and Yahoo! agreed to do the same. The proposal, and Yahoo!'s decision this week, come on the heels of increased pressure from privacy groups from the US and EU. These groups have been seeking regulatory intervention from their respective governments.
Search providers like Yahoo! use personal data to improve results and target advertising. Yahoo! says that the 90 day limit will still allow its advertisers to deliver relevant content will retain the trust of its users.
"Microsoft believes all major players in the market should move to effective privacy practices and welcomes Yahoo!'s steps on search anonymization following Microsoft's call for an industry standard last week," a Microsoft statement reads. "Microsoft believes that the method of anonymization is more important than the anonymization timeframe and believes all major search engines need to adopt a high standard."