The EU’s data protection group, Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, has already drawn concessions from Google over data retention. Now it’s reportedly investigating its privacy probe to include other search engines. No names have been mentioned, but speculation is rife that it will include Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, and Ask.com. The heart of the matter is the way search engines gather and retain information on users. This is done by tracking searches and links. Google has used this information to help its advertisers and also refine its search tools. To date, the Article 29 group hasn’t said how long its inquiry will last, but has stated it will look at the data retention practices of the industry. Earlier this month, Google offered to reduce its data retention from two years to 18 months. That move was hailed by EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini as “a good step” that demonstrated the “commitment of Google.” The search giant had also offered give the cookies it installs on users’ computer a lifespan of 30 years.
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