Google has announced new measures designed to protect its users' privacy.
The search giant will ensure that all IP addresses on its search server logs are made anonymous after nine months, and that all data logged from its monitoring of Google Suggest is indistinguishable within 24 hours.
IP addresses on Google's server logs had been kept for 18 months in order to address regulatory concerns and ensure that Google had accurate data to use for innovation purposes, according to Google privacy employees in a company blog.
"We believed further reducing the period before anonymising would degrade the utility of the data too much and outweigh the incremental privacy benefit for users," they said.
But the engineers have now developed a method of preserving more of the data's utility while also anonymising the IP addresses sooner.
Google explained that it could not further reduce the period in which recognisable data is stored because as "anonymisation gets shorter, the added privacy benefits are less significant and the utility lost from the data grows" .
The update to Google Suggest, which makes searching easier by guessing what is being typed, will ensure that the two per cent of data that is stored for monitoring purposes is anonymised within a day.
The new data retention policy should be in place by the end of this month, according to the blog.
The enhancements to data privacy follow concerns that Google was storing data for longer than is needed and creating a risk to user privacy.
Google updates data privacy policies
By Rosalie Marshall on Sep 10, 2008 8:15AM