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 Google's Data Retention Policy sparks controversy

a. Norwegian Data Inspectorate investigation

“Why do the search engine store the IP addresses [of searchers] for so long and what are they using them for?” The Norwegian Data Inspectorate, an independent administrative body under the Norwegian Ministry of Labour and Government Administration, wants answers and is investigating the data storage policies of a number of search engines, including Google and Norwegian search engines Sesam and Kvasir. The focus is on whether the storage of large quantities of deta related to internet searches is a violation of Norwegian data protection laws.

According to the latest news reports a European Union advisory body has written a letter to Google warning the search giant that its pratices fall short of EU data protection standards. Google confirmed that it received an earlier letter from the Norwegian Data Protection Group. Details were not yet released.


b. Privacy Concerns Surround Proposed Google, DoubleClick Merger

In the USA, three consumer advocate organizations have filed a joint complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting that the Google/DoubleClick merger be stopped.The complaint asserts that "neither Google or DoubleClick have taken adequate steps to safeguard the personal data that is collected." The complaint says that Google's acquisition of DoubleClick "will give one company access to more information about the Internet activities of consumers than any other company in the world. There is simply no consumer privacy issue more pressing for the Commission to consider than Google's plan to combine the search histories and Web site visit records of Internet users."


c. Google wants to alter data retention policy

According to a March 14 announcement, Google will over the next few months begin to anonymize search data it retains. The plan is to strip parts of IP data from records in order to protect the user’s privacy and reduce the likelihood that the IP address or cookie information can be tied to a particular user.




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