Google Changes Data Retention Policy

In an effort to appease EU regulators, Google on Tuesday said it will limit the amount of time it keeps user data to 18 months.

However, it left the door open to return to its original high-end time period of two years depending on data retention laws, it warned. After this period, the identifiable information will be removed, however Google will still retain the data.

The company said it felt it could still address "legitimate interests in security, innovation and anti-fraud efforts" with the shorter time frame. However, 18 months is the absolute minimum the company would accept, it made clear in its response to the EU>

Google also hopes that the offering will quell increasing criticism in both the US and Europe over its practices.

EU regulators said in May that they would investigate the company's data retention practices. A month earlier, three interest groups in the US filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy concerns with the DoubleClick merger.

A UK-based privacy group called Privacy International took the company to task on Saturday, giving it the lowest possible grade of any of the 22 internet companies it surveyed.

Google said in a published letter that it will also look into concerns over cookie expiration periods, and into ways to have shorter-term cookies without forcing the user to continually re-enter basic preferences. An announcement is forthcoming.

"As we build new products and services, we look forward to continuing our discussion with the Article 29 Working Party and with privacy stakeholders around the world," Google global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer said.

"Our common goal is to improve privacy protections for our users," he continued.

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