Microsoft to delete full Search IP addresses after 6 months

Microsoft to delete full Search IP addresses after 6 months

The news is just in that Microsoft is announcing that it will delete full IP addresses from their Bing search engine log files after 6 months. In July 2009, when Microsoft and YAHOO announced their search partnership, we predicted that real competition in the search arena between Google and Microsoft could lead to privacy benefits for consumers. Today, we are pleased to see Microsoft stepping up to the plate to delete one of the most sensitive and potentially identifiable elements in search log-files.

There is really no need to keep IP addresses long term to improve search results, when the primary geographic data can be immediately derived for use in search query analysis. At the same time, an IP address can be used by governments or legal adversaries as a key to a user’s identity. Search engines do need to keep IP addresses for a limited time to help with security and anti-fraud measures.

Here is a Microsoft chart showing the new Bing search data retention periods:

bingsearch

Yahoo’s current policy is to delete IP addresses at 3 months, with a small subset kept for 6 months for security uses. Google partially deletes IP addresses at 9 months by lopping off the last octect of the address.

Today’s announcement doesn’t affect practices around other cross-session identifiers, such as the hashed cookies maintained in search log files, so there is still work to be done in this area by Microsoft and Google.  But although a cookie enables potential research that can assemble enough data about some random selection of users who have provided enough clues due to their queries, it is the more sensitive IP address that is the key to being able to force the identification of any individual users. Kudos to Microsoft for this important search privacy advance.

Leave a Reply


Privacy Calendar

Apr
23
Wed
6:30 pm Behind the Headlines: NSA Surveillance and Ongoing Revelations @ The Washington Post
Behind the Headlines: NSA Survei… @ The Washington Post
Apr 23 @ 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Nearly a year after former government contractor Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the NSA’s surveillance system, revelations about the global programs continue to emerge. [...]
Apr
24
Thu
all-day 6th Biannual International Surveillance & Society Conference
6th Biannual International Surve…
Apr 24 – Apr 25 all-day
The 6th Biannual International Surveillance & Society conference hosted by the University of Barcelona and supported by the Surveillance Studies Network is currently calling for [...]
12:00 pm Data Privacy in Education: Ensuring Student Security while Encouraging Innovation in K-12 Education @ Rayburn House Office Building, Room B-354
Data Privacy in Education: Ensur… @ Rayburn House Office Building, Room B-354
Apr 24 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
The Congressional E-Learning Caucus in cooperation with Into and the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training presents a luncheon to discuss “Data Privacy [...]
Apr
29
Tue
all-day IAPP Europe Data Protection Intensive 2014
IAPP Europe Data Protection Inte…
Apr 29 – May 1 all-day
The IAPP Europe Data Protection Intensive features timely programming centred on the top issues impacting the European data protection community, with a focus on addressing [...]
Apr
30
Wed
5:30 pm InSecurity: Race, Surveillance and Privacy in the Digital Age @ New America Foundation
InSecurity: Race, Surveillance a… @ New America Foundation
Apr 30 @ 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Now more than ever, digital tools sit at a precarious tipping point, and many question whether they will be used to address pre-existing disparities, [...]
May
7
Wed
all-day IAPP Canada Privacy Symposium 2014
IAPP Canada Privacy Symposium 2014
May 7 – May 9 all-day
The IAPP Canada Privacy Symposium is the leading conference for education, debate and discussion of issues that matter most to Canadian privacy and data protection [...]
Jun
5
Thu
all-day Privacy Law Scholars Conference (7th Annual) @ The George Washington School of Law
Privacy Law Scholars Conference … @ The George Washington School of Law
Jun 5 – Jun 6 all-day
  UC Berkeley School of Law and The George Washington University Law School will be holding the seventh annual Privacy Law Scholars Conference (PLSC) on [...]
Jun
8
Sun
all-day Computers, Freedom, and Privacy 2014 Conference @ Airlie Center
Computers, Freedom, and Privacy … @ Airlie Center
Jun 8 – Jun 10 all-day
Mark your calendars! The 2014 Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference will be held June 8-10 at the Airlie Center in Warrenton, Virginia. The Airlie Center [...]

View Calendar