Of course you did.
Google does the same. So does Facebook and MySpace, and Microsoft and, and, and …..
They all do it. It’s part of the never-ending story of corporate efforts to dig up as much as they possibly can about you so they can use the information themselves, or sell it to advertisers and advertising companies so they can try to ‘target’ you.
And of course, if John Law or Jai Lee come knocking at the door, said companies may feel themselves regretfully compelled to hand over what should have been private data.
Especially if they have a presence in China.
But there’s no need to worry any more because Yahoo says it’ll limit to 90 days, “the time it holds some personally identifiable information related to searches to address growing concerns from privacy advocates, policy makers and government regulators,” says the New York Times.
It has Anne Toth, Yahoo policy VP , saying she hopes the move will, “take the issue off the table”.
We weren’t overly impressed in September when Google announced it was generously reducing the amount of time it keeps logs from people who’ve used the site in searches to nine months.
Is ‘nine” some kind of magical number? – we wondered. Does this very specific period of time mean ‘Do No Evil’ is somehow prevented from doing anything evil with user data?
Google was light on details, specifically, how it planned to anonymize the records after 9 months.
So he contacted Google to find out more, “and received an extremely interesting reply” »»»
After nine months, we will change some of the bits in the IP address in the logs; after 18 months we remove the last eight bits in the IP address and change the cookie information. We`re still developing the precise technical methods and approach to this, but we believe these changes will be a significant addition to protecting user privacy . It is difficult to guarantee complete anonymization, but we believe these changes will make it very unlikely users could be identified . We hope to be able to add the 9-month anonymization process to our existing 18-month process by early 2009, or even earlier.
goes on to explain in detail “what this means (and how useless the new privacy ‘enhancements` are),” concluding:
Even though the 9-month-old search logs have been anonymized, because the cookie values remain, it is trivial to match the newer search results to the older searches, and thus completely reverse the anonymization process.
The simple truth is that any IP anonymization technique, no matter how strong or weak, is simply a waste of time, if cookie values are not also anonymized.
Unfortunately, Google is relying on the fact that the mainstream media (I`m looking at you New York Times / Washington Post) are clueless on these issues, as well as seemingly most of the technology press.
Google`s new anonymization policy is totally worthless, and the company deserves to be called out for its deception.
Now, “Yahoo will delete the last eight bits of the Internet Protocol, or I.P., address associated with a search query after 90 days,” days the NYT, going on Yahoo will also hide cookie data related to each search log, and strip out any personally identifiable information, like a name, phone number, address or Social Security number, from the query itself.
Its new policy will extend to other types of data such as page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks, says the story.
A cynic might think that gives Yahoo plenty of time to stash data it collects during the three-month period, updating it every three months as new stuff comes along and is scooped up.
Meanwhile, last week, Microsoft said it was willing to delete data that could, “potentially identify a user performing an online search after six months, instead of the current 18, as long as other major search engines followed its lead,” says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
all kinds of personal – Getting you to pay attention, December 16, 2008
Shi Tao or Wang Xiaoning – Yahoo shamed in Chinese jail scandals, November 9, 2007
New York Times – Yahoo Limits Retention of Personal Data, December 17, 2008
generously reducing – New Google data retention plan, September 9, 2008
CNET News – Debunking Google`s log anonymization propaganda, September 11, 2008
Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Search engines beef up privacy policies, December 17, 2008
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