EU Takes Aim at Search Engines Over Personal Data

Companies should delete users' info within six months, advisory group says
By Laila Weir,  Newser User
Posted Apr 8, 2008 3:51 PM CDT
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates gives a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Sunday, Jan. 6, 2008.    (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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(Newser) – A European advisory body has sharply criticized Internet search companies’ use of personal data, the BBC reports. Its recommendations, likely to be adopted by the European Commission, say search companies should delete users’ information within six months. The opinion comes alongside reports of a new kind of computer cookie that tracks Internet surfers’ behavior in much more detail than ordinary cookies.

The EU group made numerous other recommendations, including that companies should be clearer about their purposes in collecting information and get user consent before connecting data across services. The suggestions are at odds with established practice at Google and MSN, which make data anonymous after 18 months, and Yahoo, which does so after 13 months.