Page last updated at 12:52 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Yahoo throws down data gauntlet

Yahoo web page
Yahoo previously held the data of web surfers for 13 months

Search engine Yahoo is to cut the time it stores personal data from 13 months to three.

It is hoping its decision will provide a benchmark for industry. Currently Google stores data for nine months and Microsoft for six months.

International data protection officials have been urging firms to do more to protect the data of users.

Privacy advocates have welcomed the move and challenged rivals to go even further.

"I would challenge industry to move to 30 days across the board. People should demand that their information is expunged as rapidly as possible," said Simon Davies, head of Privacy International.

Business needs

A recent rash of data leaks has left users concerned and organisations embarrassed, he said.

"The less time data is online means less risk that rogue companies can establish dangerously comprehensive profiles on users," he added.

Yahoo said its decision to cut the time it stores information gathered from web surfing came about following a "review of its data practices".

"This policy represents Yahoo's assessment of the minimum amount of time we need to retain data to respond to the needs of our business while deepening our trusted relationship with users," said Anne Toth, Yahoo's head of privacy.

As well as anonymising user log data, the policy will also apply to page views, page clicks and ad views and clicks.

But the search giant has reserved the right to keep data for up to six months if fraud or system security are involved.

Privacy campaigners have argued that firms are currently keeping data unnecessarily. Mr Davies is sceptical about what he described as "mixed messages" from industry.

"Only last year, firms were saying that they couldn't go below 15 months but the logic of what Yahoo has done suggests there is no reason why they can't go even lower," he said.



Print Sponsor


SEE ALSO
Jerry Yang to quit as Yahoo boss
18 Nov 08 |  Technology
Yahoo signs deal with Virgin Mobile
01 Dec 08 |  Technology
Profiles: Yahoo, Google and Microsoft
29 Jul 09 |  Business
Google cuts data retention times
12 Jun 07 |  Technology

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific