Yahoo, which announced plans to anonymize search logs, page views, page clicks, ad views, and ad click data it collected after 90 days in 2008, is reversing course and plans to begin storing search logs for 18 months -- as well as potentially storing other types of user information for longer periods of time. After notifying users, Yahoo says this new policy will be in effect sometime after mid-July.
The move at the time set Yahoo apart from Google and Microsoft, which both retained records for 18 months. Yahoo's self-regulation action, which saw the company reduce the length of time it kept raw data from 13 months to three months, was in part prompted by growing privacy concerns.
Anne Toth, vice president of policy and head of privacy, Yahoo, in 2008:
"In our world of customized online services, responsible use of data is critical to establishing and maintaining user trust," said Anne Toth, Yahoo!'s Vice President of Policy and Head of Privacy. "We know that our users expect relevant and compelling content and advertising when they visit Yahoo!, but they also want assurances that we are focused on protecting their privacy."
And Anne Toth, chief trust officer, Yahoo, Friday:
"Over the past several years it's clear that the Internet has changed, our business has changed, and the competitive landscape has changed. We have gone back to the drawing board to ensure that our policies will support the innovative products we want to deliver for our consumers."
Toth wrote that the change is an attempt "to meet the needs of our consumers for personalization and relevance," and also told the AP that the move is an attempt to keep up with social networking sites and mobile apps, and to allow "highly personalzed services," for which a larger set of user behavior data is needed.
Wonder if Microsoft's Bing, which powers Yahoo search, might have had any influence in this change?