Saturday, February 04, 2006

Search firms to users: screw your privacy

Declan McCullagh has surveyed the four major search engines on their data storage policies (how long they keep information about your searches, and whether you are able to delete that data). Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! fail the test abysmally, storing personal information indefinitely. They might get away with that attitude in the US, but if their European offices acted in the same way they would be breaching the EU Data Privacy Directive.

AOL has a much better policy:

The user has the ability to delete any individual search they have conducted by clicking on the trash icon next to it, or to delete them all by clicking on the "clear all" link on the results page.

Similarly, both the results and "saved searches" pages offer users the ability to "turn off" this functionality with two clicks. If a user opts out, AOL will no longer save or use their search results data. (Users can turn that functionality back on, of course, if they would prefer to have access to that data and the customization AOL can provide with it).

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