Yahoo is claiming victory, or at least a lead, in the race to improve the privacy of user’s comings and going on the Web. Starting next month, Yahoo said it will anonymize user log data within 90 days. Up till now, Yahoo kept such data up to 13 months. Exceptions include “fraud, security and legal obligations” that presumably would compel Yahoo to keep such information longer. But in general, Yahoo will now have a much shorter vault of information on its 500 million users worldwide .
Yahoo said it will also expand the policy to apply not only to search log data but also page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks.
You may recall Google has been [steadily scaling back ](/security/article.php/3770531/Google+to+Purge+Server+Logs+Twice+as+Fast.htm)the length of time it retains user data which used to be years. In September, Google announced it was cutting the retention time in half, from 18 months down to 9 months. After that period, the server logs are “anonymized” so it becomes impossible to trace an IP address back to an individual.
Google and other Web companies, maintain that analyzing the server logs with full IP addresses collected over an extended period of time helps them combat fraud, spam and other Internet threats.
“This policy represents Yahoo!’s assessment of the minimum amount of time we need to retain data in order to respond to the needs of our business while deepening our trusted relationship with users,” said Anne Toth, Yahoo’s vice president of policy and head of privacy.
**Ask and you shall be erased**
The most direct and perhaps most innovative solution to this aspect of data privacy is from Ask.com which [unveiled its “AskEraser” button ](/ec-news/article.php/3716056)a year ago this month.
Clicking the AskEraser button in the top right corner of the page will automatically delete related cookie information from Ask.com’s servers, including user and session ID’s, IP addresses and search text.