Google Promises to Randomize Users for Privacy

Google.jpgGoogle is updating its privacy policy to randomize the information logs it collects whenever a user makes a search. In the past the company held onto the information like query itself, IP addresses and cookie details, for as long as it liked, but now it will remove some of the pertinent details in an effort protect privacy and assuage privacy concerns.

Of course, the company is still going to hang on to all the information for at least 18 to 24 months before it randomizes it. The company made the new policy known through its blog yesterday, and claims it’s the result of long discussions with privacy stakeholders in Europe and the U.S., but it’s tough not to see the specter of AOL’s search log debacle last year looming its head here too. When AOL mistakenly released search logs for over 650,000 users, which didn’t even have IP addresses associated with them, users were still identified and AOL was dealt a black eye.

Still, Google is sticking to its guns that their new policy should be seen as positive move by consumers and advertisers alike. When I spoke to Google spokesperson Victoria Grand, she told me “We’re adding an additional layer of privacy protection for our users. For advertisers, because trust is the foundation of users using our service, hopefully this means even more users will trust Google.”

I’m still wondering if holding onto something for two years is going to make users feel better about their privacy, but at least it’s no longer forever.

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