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Yahoo! Search is Now Hanging Onto Your Data 15 Months Longer

Yahoo Privacy Update, keeping your data longer

It was only a year ago that Yahoo set their privacy standard to only a 90-day data retention length.  At 3 months, Yahoo had the shortest retention length among search engines; beating out Bing and Google by several months.  But now, Yahoo is making changes to their user’s data privacy policy that will take effect within the next few months.  The changes are a stark reversal, as Yahoo just announced that they will now store data not for 90 days, but 18 months.

If you didn’t use Yahoo! before for search, now you have another reason (besides a whole list of them) to continue not using it.  Yahoo Chief Trust Officer, Anne Toth, stated that the new changes:

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.

By a most robust and individualized experience, they mean that you’ll have more personalized ads displayed while browsing Yahoo and partner sites.  And by protecting your privacy, that just means they’ll try not to let hackers access their databases.  Why else would she say:

Today our goals remain the same – keep data as long as we need to and meet our consumers’ expectations on trust.

The previous 90 days (3 months) was long enough for Yahoo search to continue functioning perfectly as best it could.  In fact, they didn’t actually throw the data out.  In their previous policy Yahoo said that they would simply clear identifiable information found in the data, but still retain it indefinitely;

Yahoo! will anonymize user log data within 90 days with limited exceptions for fraud, security and legal obligations

This all makes sense, from a business standpoint.  The more information on you that the company has to sell to advertisers and the like, the easier it will be for them to generate revenue.  But, at the same time I’m wondering why Yahoo would opt for an 18 month period?  Bing only holds data for 6 months and Google holds it for 9 months.

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Bing search privacy chart

Yahoo is clearly after monetization of user data, but we’ll have to wait and see if these changes actually go through in spite of the uproar from privacy advocates.  If it does become the new Yahoo policy, expect to see changes in mid July.

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