Yahoo will now keep users’ search data for 18 months, reversing its earlier decision to reduce the amount of time it stores such information.
“We will hold raw search log files for 18 months and we will be closely examining what the right policy and time frame should be for other log file data,” wrote Anne Toth, Yahoo’s chief trust officer, in an April 15 post to the company’s Policy Blog.
Toth argued that Yahoo’s business has changed, as has the competitive landscape, forcing the company to revisit its log file data retention policy. She went on to state the new 18-month retention period is “closer to the competitive norm” than its previous 90-day storage policy.
“In the next 4-6 weeks we will begin rolling out notifications across Yahoo! to ensure that we have given clear and understandable notice to our consumers of this change in our policy. Thirty days after we have completed these notifications, we will put the new policy into effect. We expect this will occur sometime in mid-to-late July,” continued Toth.
In December 2008, the firm went to the extreme end of its search competitors Google and Microsoft, limiting retention to just three months. When Yahoo announced its decision to drastically reduce retention time from 13 months to three, Toth said the policy “represents Yahoo’s assessment of the minimum amount of time it needs to retain data in order to respond to the needs of its business while deepening its trusted relationship with users.”
At the time, Yahoo and Google – and later Microsoft – were all assessing data retention policies, partly in response to concerns of European Union data protection regulators and privacy advocates. In September 2008, Google said it would cut its data retention time from 18 months to nine. Over a year later, Microsoft decided it too would reduce its storage time. In January 2010, the company said it would limit its search data retention time to six months.