Microsoft to destroy search data after 18 months

24 Jul 2007

Microsoft has said that it will make search query data from its Windows Live Search engine anonymous after 18 months by permanently removing cookie IDs, the entire IP address and other forms of possible user identity.

Amidst greater scrutiny over what search engines like MSN or Google do with search data, Microsoft this morning moved to set out new privacy principles for users of its Windows Live Search engine and as well as advertising data collection, use and protection.

The company said it will work to give customers more control over what information it uses to personalise their online search experience.

It said that it will also join the Network Advertising Initiative later this year, when it begins to offer third-party ad serving services on a broader scale.

“We have been thinking deeply about privacy related to search and online advertising and believe it is critical to evolve our privacy principles,” said Terry Landers, head of law and corporate affairs at Microsoft.

“We believe our enhanced principles should be part of the industry dialogue on this issue and that keeping these issues as simple as possible for consumers is the best approach. For instance, on search data, anonymous should mean anonymous.”

Microsoft said that it will also move to design its systems and processes in ways that minimize the privacy impact of the data it collects, stores, processes and uses to deliver products.

For example it will store Live Search service search terms separately from account information that personally and directly identifies the person such as name, email address and phone numbers.

By John Kennedy