Google is to cut the length of time it holds users' personal search data. The move comes in response to a data protection group that wrote to the firm questioning its privacy policies. The European advisory body, called Article 29, said Google's current data retention practices could be breaking European privacy laws. The search giant has said it will now keep personally identifiable search data for 18 months rather than the previous period of 18 to 24 months.
Google currently collects and stores information from each search query, holding information about the search query itself, the unique PC address (known as an IP number), and details about how a user makes their searches, such as the web browser that is being used. The company says it needs this information to improve its different services and to help fight threats such as fraud, spam and malicious attacks, and to aid "valid legal orders" from law enforcement agencies. It keeps this information for a set period before "anonymising" it - disconnecting the data from an individual.