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Google has announced that it will implement a new policy designed to offer more privacy protection to its users by the end of the year, reports CNet. “Under the new policy…the company will anonymize the final eight bits of the IP address and the cookie data after somewhere between 18 months and 24 months, unless legally required to retain the data for longer. The information on specific searches will remain indefinitely, but it will be much harder to tie the searches to specific individuals or computers.” Privacy advocates welcomed the move as a “first step”, but wanted the company to provide more protection (by scrubbing the address completely) sooner. Google claims that data retention laws in Europe require that it keeps the logs of searches on its site for up to two years. Google also said it needs the data to “analyze usage patterns and diagnose system problems. For example, Google uses the information for fraud detection and prevention and to combat denial of service attacks that can temporarily cripple or shut down servers”.