We trust search engines with information that we won’t tell our family, friends, or doctors. But do they deserve our trust? Typically search engines keep logs of all the searches you make, tied to a unique cookie, or possibly even your real name. The law does not directly limit what companies can do with that data themselves, and, of course, the government can ask for it, or the data can simply be accidentally exposed for the world to see.
Until recently, Yahoo! was the industry-leader when it came to minimizing the amount of time that search log data was kept in identifiable form. While Google and Microsoft were storing search data in identifiable form for between six and eighteen months, Yahoo! was only keeping this data for 90 days, a policy that earned them accolades from both public interest groups and legislators.
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