Microsoft cuts time Bing stores some user data to six months

By storing searchers' IP addresses for only six months, Microsoft hopes to steal a lead on Google in the privacy debate

Microsoft announced plans to cut the length of time it stores IP addresses of Web searchers using its Bing search engine from 18 months to six in a bid to improve its privacy track record.

Rival Google cut retention times to nine months from 18 in August 2008.

However, Microsoft executives said Tuesday that their initiative goes much further than Google did, because Microsoft will delete all parts of the IP (Internet Protocol) address after six months, while Google still retains part of the address after its self-imposed nine-month cut-off point.

It will take Microsoft between 12 and 18 months to introduce the new tighter data retention policy, it said in a blog posting.

Both companies are responding to pressure from European data protection officials, who are concerned about the privacy implications of retaining an IP address.

The Article 29 committee, comprising data protection officials from all 27 E.U. countries, has asked the leading search engine makers to respond to their concerns by the end of this month.

IP addresses cannot positively identify the person sitting at a computer or accessing the Net via their phone, but they can identify the computer or phone being used, and the hardware can often be linked to a person.

Microsoft and Google both argue that the less data the search engine has, the less well the search engine can respond to a person's specific needs. They also point out that keeping search data helps them combat Internet fraud and spam.

However Brendon Lynch, Microsoft's director of privacy policy, said the Bing search experience won't be compromised by the reduction to a six-month retention time.

"Quality of search won't be reduced but privacy will be enhanced," he said.

John Vassallo, Microsoft's VP for E.U. affairs and its associate general counsel urged rival search companies and in particular the largest search provider, Google, to follow suit in further reducing retention times.

"There should be a common standard across the industry. The largest search provider collects more data than anyone else. We think it is critical that the market leader matches this," Vassallo said.

Google and Yahoo, another popular search engine, weren't immediately able to comment on the move by Microsoft.

Google spokesman Bill Echikson said his company would soon submit a written response to the Article 29 committee.

Google will soon submit a written response to the Article 29 committee but it won't change its nine-month retention policy.

"We're committed to using data to both improve our services and our security measures for our users and protect their privacy, and we remain convinced that our current logs retention policy represents a responsible balance," said Google's global privacy counse, Peter Fleischer, in a statement.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Microsoftbingsearch enginesprivacy

More about BillGoogleMicrosoftYahoo

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Paul Meller

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts