A new move by Microsoft is an example to follow for the rest of the search engine market when it comes down in protecting user privacy. Peter Cullen, Microsoft chief privacy strategist, announced at the start of this week that the company had introduced a key change to its data retention policy. As an integral part of the evolution of Microsoft’s Internet search privacy practices, the software giant promises to delete the entire Internet Protocol address associated with queries entered by users in the Bing search engine once every 6 months. The current Microsoft practice is to keep the information for a total of 18 months.
“Under our current policy, as soon as Microsoft receives a Bing search query we take steps to de-identify the data by separating it from account information that could identify the person who performed the search. Then, at 18 months, we take the additional step of deleting the IP address, the de-identified cookie ID and any other cross-session IDs associated with the query. The core components of this policy will not change. Our new policy will change the date at which we delete the IP address associated with search queries to six months. We will implement the new policy over the next 12 to 18 months,” Cullen explained.
“There are many good reasons to retain and review search data. Studying trends in search queries enables us to improve the quality of our results, protect against fraud and maintain a secure and viable business. But consumer privacy can and must be preserved. For our part, Microsoft continues to examine our practices to ensure we strike the right balance and achieving both goals,” Cullen added.