Yahoo plans to retain search information for eighteen months

At one point, three years ago, Yahoo crowed about how it would keep records of your searching history for only three months. They then said that they would 'purge the information' in order to maintain trust with their users. Now, it appears that Yahoo intend to keep search data for six times as long. Unsurprisingly, this action has angered those who value privacy online over all else. The change will come into effect in mid-to-late July, with Yahoo users being notified of the change within the next six weeks. Privacy advocates believe that Yahoo is no longer seeking to maintain end-user privacy. They believe that Yahoo requires this information in order to provide more targeted advertising to end-users, depending on what they click when searching.

Anne Toth, Yahoo's chief trust officer, had the following to say about the change:

“Over the last three years, the way we and other companies offer services online and the way consumers experience the Internet has changed dramatically, So, we will keep our log file data longer than we have been — offering consumers a more robust individualized experience — while we continue our innovation in the areas of transparency and choice to protect privacy."

Toth's complete blog post on the subject can be read here. Unsurprisingly, a large number of internet users have complained about the change made to Yahoo's policy; some of whom have been more vocal in their displeasure than others. Jeff Chester, the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, described the move as a 'bait-and-switch' policy. The change in data storage length has put Yahoo at a completely different point within the world of search engines. Previously, Yahoo held information for one of the shortest time periods of any search provider - the new change has taken them from the front of the pack to near the back.

Interestingly, this action could cause problems for Yahoo within the European Union. Yahoo's change may put them in conflict with the data protection clause in EU legislation, which requires search engines to purge all data relating to end users after a six month period. The possibility of Yahoo being blocked in European Union countries is extremely remote, however, as Yahoo intend to 'to discuss the future of privacy regulation modernized for the Internet age' with the European Union.

Anne Toth's blog post outlines Yahoo's new policy as a search engine, stating that other engines are retaining data for longer as well, and that the 'competitive landscape' for search engines has changed. This should come as no real surprise; when Yahoo touted itself as being one of the more privacy-oriented solutions three years ago, Microsoft's Bing engine did not exist in its current form. Rather, it existed only as 'Live Search', and did not hold the same degree of popularity among users. Since its release in June 2009, Bing has rapidly grown in popularity. As of April 2011, Bing has become the 19th most visited site on the internet, according to Alexa.

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21 Comments

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No real problem for me I do not search for anything illegal and I block ALL ad's from all websites so targeted ad's will not be a problem ether as I will not see them.

What average joe internet users are going to even know this exists, ever! The majority of them can't even spell Retain, let alone define it. Take a look at Yahoo Answers and you'll see just what their user base consists of.

this is terrible. I dont know if someone can stop them. If they ever had a user base with this they will kill the few they have. No one will use yahoo. The problem are the subsites they own, like flickr.

Thank goodness (in the UK at least) not many use Yahoo Google has 90%+ market share in the UK overall, out of all the people I've known and seen search on the net it's about 99% xD Poor Yahoo.

thealexweb said,
Thank goodness (in the UK at least) not many use Yahoo Google has 90%+ market share in the UK overall, out of all the people I've known and seen search on the net it's about 99% xD Poor Yahoo.

You seriously think google care more about your privacy?

[quote=bugsbungee said,]

You seriously think google care more about your privacy?[/quote

I am not searching for child porn, how to make explosives or anything illegal so I am not worried.

Hardly.

The reason why Yahoo is going for longer-term retention has little (in fact, largely nothing) to do with private-enterprise concerns, but more law-enforcement-related datamining (criminal-investigation-related, and not just cybercrimes, but more typical crimes that may have cybertwists, all the way from fraud to murder). Hasn't Google also gone toward longer-term retention also? Some of us will keep right on *insisting* on short-term retention - that is, until they lose something (or, more likely someone) that they didn't want to lose. Remember the age-old definton of a conservative - a liberal whose own ox has been gored.

yowan said,

Who would even use this thing?

You MUST try Yahoo's version of Instant Search. Its pretty cool! But Im Binger.

yowan said,

Who would even use this thing?

You MUST try Yahoo's version of Instant Search. Its pretty cool! It will give you a reason for, why some people still use Yahoo.
But I'm a Binger.

MindTrickz said,
“If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place,

Or you should do it using a VPN or proxy...