Microsoft has agreed with the Article 29 Working Party of EU data regulators that they will remove cookies and IP addresses from search data after 6 months, but only if Google and Yahoo also go along. We will comment further about this, but are already thinking about the next issue – ad server log file retention.
Companies didn’t adopt search data retention practices until pressed by the European regulators and then were “ordered” to adopt a 6 month term. This time frame seemed to be a political compromise period agreed to by the group of regulators without any documentation of why 6 months is the model balance of improving search vs. user privacy. We propose a better process for ad server log files, based on examining the minimum period needed for the functions of serving and accounting for ad delivery and related auditing and analysis. We have some more work to do here and will be discussing this with ad serving and behavioral targeting companies, many of whom currently keep ad serving log data long term without any clear need to do so. We understand the value of having a year’s worth of data in order to understand seasonal or year to year trends and believe that retention periods of 9-13 months could easily be put in place at many companies with zero business impact whatsoever. Why wait until the next crisis hits or the Europeans decide to press this issue? Let’s figure out how to implement a more responsible practice in this area in order to improved user privacy in a business practical manner.
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