The move comes after privacy groups and the European Union called for internet firms to reduce the period they store data associated with an individual's unique computer IP address. "Under the new policy, Yahoo! will anonymise user log data within 90 days with limited exceptions for fraud, security and legal obligations," said Yahoo! in a statement. Yahoo! said the new policy will apply to search log data, page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks, and "strengthens Yahoo!'s relationship of trust with its 500 million users worldwide". The move means Yahoo! will dispose of user data far earlier than Google, which stores it for nine months, and Microsoft, which has pledged to slash its data retention from 18 months to six months if other organisations follow suit.
Internet companies use the personal search data of web users in a variety of ways, including delivering targeted adverts designed to suit the needs of users based on perceived interests gleaned by identifying key terms in their surfing habits. The practice has raised concerns among watchdogs and privacy campaigners, who question the need to keep this information for such a long period of time. Anne Toth, Yahoo!'s vice president of policy and head of privacy, said the move set a new benchmark for the industry. "Responsible use of data is critical to establishing and maintaining user trust," she said. "Our users expect relevant and compelling content and advertising when they visit Yahoo!, but they also want assurances that we are focused on protecting their privacy. ( www.telegraph.co.uk )