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Search engine providers square up to EU privacy directive

Graham Titterington | Dec. 15, 2008
The issue highlights the clash between commercial interests and personal privacy

Users expect a free service and useful results. They do not want to trawl through irrelevant links. The working party has recognised that there is a need for data retention; the debate is over how much data is enough. Microsoft says it could work with six months data, but this would put it at a commercial disadvantage. Ovum does not believe that the deterioration in service level would be significant.

Search histories contain an extensive picture of the user, even when the users name and IP address are deleted. Over time the search may contain their name, neighbourhood, employer or interests. It is essential to unlink individual searches to remove this traceability.

It would be good to see a search provider having the courage to unilaterally accept the working partys opinion and publicise this compliance as a competitive differentiator. Unfortunately we dont see this happening in the near future.

Graham Titterington is a principal analyst at Ovum, specialising in IT security and business continuity.


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