Monday, July 23, 2007

Microsoft's mixed messages on search privacy

Microsoft is giving out some mixed messages on search privacy. Brendon Lynch, MS director of privacy strategy, told The Guardian:

'We have got to have a cross-industry dialogue on this privacy issue. We believe that, ultimately, consumers will benefit from one common standard as it will bring more certainty than the current patchwork of policies. What's really different with our offering is what we mean by 'anonymisation'. Anonymous should mean anonymous.'

Indeed — and achieving that is more difficult than many companies first realise, given the amount of identifying information included in search terms. But why shouldn't companies compete on their privacy strategies? And why is Microsoft following Google's lead in storing identifiable search terms for 18 months?

This particular expression of Microsoft concern over privacy seems prompted by their imminent launch of third-party behavioural ad targeting, which will give advertisers access to information about their search users.

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