Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Privacy Struggle Reflected in Microsoft BING Data Retention Policy Change

"Microsoft responded to privacy concerns of the Article 29 committee, an organization made up of data protection officers from the countries of the European Union, by announcing that it will change its Bing search data retention policies and purge IP address data after six months."

"If search providers like Microsoft and Google could operate in a privacy vacuum, they would retain as much data as the storage capacity of their data centers could hold. Historical data of search habits and patterns is like gold to a search provider"

"The more search providers can retain and analyze search result information, the more they can tweak the algorithms used to deliver search results.

If the provider can determine your interests and inclinations based on your Web surfing habits, and you past searches, and which results you have actually clicked on, it can use that information to present you with search results that are uniquely suited for you. When it comes to online advertising, it would make sense to only bombard you with banner, display, and pop-up ads that are at least related to products or topics you are interested in."

"Perhaps a prominent businessman is considering pursuing political office. Maybe a famous entertainer has a drug problem. Bringing it down to mere mortals, maybe a wife is cheating on her husband and considering divorce, or a spouse frequents fetish porn sites.

Any one of those scenarios involves an expectation of privacy. The individuals would not want future search results--which may be done with others present--to reflect the Web surfing and online searches conducted previously in private."

PCWorld - Bing Data Retention Shift a Sign of Privacy Struggle

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