Google Data Retention Policy Improved

Google's logs to get anonymous sooner.

Previously slated for its terrible privacy policy Google has been doing some work to improve. Its cookie policy, for example, was changed from a blanket 2039 deletion to a 2-year expiry. Now, the company has halved its IP address retention period from 18 months to a mere nine.

After that nine-month period, IP addresses stored in Google’s logs will be anonymised – that is to say, they’ll no longer be retained. According to a blog post by Peter Fleischer, Global Privacy Counsel; Jane Horvath, Senior Privacy Counsel; and Alma Whitten, Software Engineer (yes, that’s a lot of people) this is causing Google itself a bit of annoyance.

While we’re glad that this will bring some additional improvement in privacy, we’re also concerned about the potential loss of security, quality, and innovation that may result from having less data. As the period prior to anonymization gets shorter, the added privacy benefits are less significant and the utility lost from the data grows. So, it’s difficult to find the perfect equilibrium between privacy on the one hand, and other factors, such as innovation and security, on the other. Technology will certainly evolve, and we will always be working on ways to improve privacy for our users, seeking new innovations, and also finding the right balance between the benefits of data and advancement of privacy.”

We’ll obviously have to take Google’s word for it that IP data really does help it improve the services it offers to us, its users. For the privacy-paranoid, or merely concerned, though, this step will probably still be insufficient.

Definitely a step in the right direction, though. Now can you fix Chrome please, Google?

Google Blog.

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