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Google Storing User Data: Controlling Privacy and Relevancy
Ed Kohler
There has been a bit of a dust-up in the world of online privacy following the release of a report that smacked Google for not doing enough to protect the privacy of their users. While the report seems to have some flaws, it's one of Google's responses to the report that has me the most worked up: Google plans to anonymize server logs after 18-24 months:
Recently, we took another important step to improve our privacy practices by announcing a new policy to anonymize our server logs after 18 to 24 months, becoming the first leading search company to publish a data retention policy. We also posted here to explain the factors that guided our decision to retain server log data for 18 to 24 months.
Matt Cutts, the Google search guru, also cheers this change on his personal blog.

In my opinion, 18-24 months is both too long and too short a time to store customer's data. It's too short for people who are willing to share whatever data they can with Google in order to improve their search experience. For example, Google knows something about the terms I used to search for homes and cars, but I don't buy either of those items on a 18-24 month search cycle, so Google will have to re-learn how I personally search for this type of item every time I'm in the market.

18 months is clearly too long for people who value their privacy over anything else. While there are options to completely opt-out of data collection, there is a much better option that could be implemented by Google: give users control over their own data. If everyone can see what's being collected about them, and choose a set of privacy criteria that feels right for them, everyone's happy. Some will say, "keep everything" others will turn everything off, and a large group in the middle will set some limit on how much or how long they're willing to share information with Google.

People trust Google. They really really do to the point of sharing more medical information with Google than they may feel comfortable sharing with their own doctor. With that comes with a lot of responsibility to protect user's data in ways that users both understand and can control.



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Comments

1. Posted by: Tara Kelly (PassPack) on June 17, 2007 1:42 PM:

I applaud you for taking the "let users choose" stance. I believe that this is the only way to truly take back control over one's online private data.

Google has taken quite a spill in the media lately on privacy, but I think Matt Cutts does a good job cutting through some of the hype - though there are a couple of things that aren't entirely clear for me still, it's a great read.

But you're right, people trust Google. A lot.

Cheers,
Tara Kelly
PassPack Founding Partner




2. Posted by: Адам on June 13, 2009 12:52 PM:

Сенкс:) Классная тема, пишите чаше - у вас отлично получается :)




3. Posted by: БOГИHЯкaвкaзa on July 4, 2009 12:59 AM:

Вот про это я почитал с огромным интересом. И прочитал бы еще больше! Планируете и в дальнейшем писать на эту же тему? Спасибо




4. Posted by: Тарас on July 24, 2009 11:59 AM:

Ого! Неожиданный поворот событий!




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