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Feeling The Heat, Google Pledges To Discard User Data After Nine Months

With the heat from regulators and advertisers rising, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is trying to release some pressure related to privacy issues by cutting the amount of time it stores user data in half. In a post on the Google Blog, the company says it had been holding information on users’ web activity for 18 months; Google will now discard the data after nine months.

Google also defended itself saying that it was the first to “anonymize” its data over two years ago. Still, the decision to shorten the period it holds users’ data does come with some hand-wringing and a note of regret. While Google says it’s happy to improve privacy, but warns of the potential loss of “security, quality, and innovation that may result from having less data. As the period prior to anonymization gets shorter, the added privacy benefits are less significant and the utility lost from the data grows. So, it’s difficult to find the perfect equilibrium between privacy on the one hand, and other factors, such as innovation and security, on the other.”

Reuters: Google discussed the privacy moves and its implications on a panel at, of all places, Microsoft’s (NSDQ: MSFT) Silicon Valley offices. Peter Cullen, Microsoft’s chief privacy strategist, charged that Google was mainly responding to pressure from European Union regulators. Specifically, he said that Google adopted the 18-month storage period only after complaints by EU officials.

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