Soon, Your Search History to Linger on Servers for Six Months

Maximum PC Staff

And advantage is an advantage, no matter how slight, and no matter how you come by it. Microsoft is using the ‘coerced’ limiting of its retention of search information by the European Union (EU), as a one-up against Google in the search-engine war.

Microsoft has agreed to a policy change for the retention of search requests on Bing , its newly launched search engine: six months rather than 18 months. The data retained by Microsoft consists of IP addresses (which can identify specific users on the Internet), and search terms. This data is used to improved the quality of Bing, as well as develop auxiliary services that enhance the search experience. Microsoft also claims this shorter retention period will better protect user privacy.

Google, on the other hand, just cut its data retention rate to nine months. While shorter than before, this is three months longer than the EU recommendation for data retention and Microsoft’s new data retention policy. Google defends its policy, stating: “Data from our search queries represents a crucial arm in our battle to protect the security of our services against hacks and fraud. It also represents a critical element allowing us to help users by innovating and improving the quality of our searches.”

While both Microsoft and Google claim they are motivated by user security, Microsoft says that Google's policy is not only riskier, but proves Google values less its users than does Microsoft. If you want your privacy protected, says Microsoft, you should be using Bing.

If privacy protection is your concern then your best bet is to avoid Google and Microsoft, and head over to Yahoo. Google doesn’t appear likely to budge on its policy anytime soon. Microsoft says it will take 12 to 18 months to figure out how to store data for six months rather than 18. Yahoo, on the other hand, says it will only keep your data for three months--a policy which its already implemented.

Image Credit: Wandering Eyes/Flickr

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