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Microsoft Privacy

Microsoft To Delete Bing IP Data After 6 Months 101

Posted by kdawson
from the can't-see-you-anymore dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Bowing to pressure from the EU, Microsoft said it would discard all data collected via its Bing search engine after six months. (Microsoft's announcement contains a timeline for what data gets anonymized or deleted when.) Until now, the software giant has retained the data for 18 months. Over the past two years, however, Internet companies such as Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google have made efforts to reduce the amount of time that information is stored. Microsoft's policies will remain the same, but now, the company will delete the IP address and other info after six months. Back in December 2008, Microsoft said it would reduce its retention time to six months, but only if its rivals followed suit. At the time, Yahoo anonymized its data after 13 months, and Google did the same after 9 months. A week later, Yahoo cut that time down to three months, but Google said its decisions are not conditioned on what competitors do."
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Microsoft To Delete Bing IP Data After 6 Months

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  • Privacy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @05:55PM (#30825130) Journal

    After Google's CEO's comments about privacy is only wanted by wrongdoers [slashdot.org] and their massive influence all over the internet, mobile phones and soon desktop I'm starting to think Bing might be better. Like the summary states, Google says its decisions "aren't conditioned on what competitors do" and they want to do what they want. Seems like they got huge and got piss in their head.

    When credit is due, I have to give it. Bing is done correctly, and Google seems like the falling star it once was. We want privacy - give it to us.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Uranium-238 (1586465)
      One of my professors last semestor asked us a similar question: "Do you want your DNA to be stored indefinitely on a national database?" To which I said good lord no! I was then asked what I have or might have to hide in the future and I said nothing, merely my privacy and my genetic code. I added as a joke Enjoy the terrorists making bio weapons tailored to your DNA.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dedazo (737510)

        by Uranium-238

        [...] national database [...] lord [...] genetic code. [...] terrorists [...] bio weapons [...] DNA

        This is the NSA. Please put down the donut and remain at your desk until the nice officers arrive.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        My answer to that would be "lots", but not because I am doing anything wrong or expect to do something wrong in the future.

        One of the problems with DNA is that it is circumstantial evidence by nature, but the juries are often too clueless to understand that. The fact of the matter is, odds are almost 100% that at some point in my lifetime, my DNA will be present at or near the scene of a crime. Likewise for every person on this earth. You leave your DNA and fingerprints when you sit on a seat on the bus,

      • I wouldn't worry about the terrorists. I would worry about health insurance companies. They can at least lobby the government. Sorry Timmy we can't insure you as you have a gene that indicates a predisposition to cancer and that would just hurt our bottom line.
      • "Do you want your DNA to be stored indefinitely on a national database?"

        a more useful question might have been 'would you be prepared to have your DNA on a database if it would act as a deterrent for crime and help bring criminals to justice'.

        I realise this does not apply to Google, who seem to have brought new meaning to the phrase

        'information is power'

        lets just hope the don't blackmail me with my porn habits (over 60s is normal right?)

        • I suppose you're right, if the database would only be for that purpose, then I wouldn't mind as much. As for your habits....ye that's normal. I shudder to think of the day Google starts blackmailing or something you for your search habits...
    • Re:Privacy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by negRo_slim (636783) <mils_oRgen@hotmail.com> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @06:00PM (#30825220)

      We want privacy - give it to us.

      Who is this we you speak of? Your average internet user really doesn't seem to give a damn as long as they can get what they want quickly and easily. Just look at the success of some of these games on social networking sites. Like Mafia Wars for instance; basically nothing more than a database with a shitty HTML front end that offers no real game play or player interactions yet people eat it up, allowing companies like Zynga to scrap profile data or serve them "customer surveys" or "trail offers" and "free products"... People fill that crap out trading their privacy for an increase in an arbitrary value in some shitty "app".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        People fill that crap out trading their privacy for an increase in an arbitrary value in some shitty "app".

        On the other hand, the fact that so many are doing it would seem to indicate that they see value for themselves in this. However, this belief is founded on the assumption that people are aware of how their data is used in the first place; or that they think it's significant. For most Internet users, neither is true.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by causality (777677)

        We want privacy - give it to us.

        Who is this we you speak of? Your average internet user really doesn't seem to give a damn as long as they can get what they want quickly and easily. Just look at the success of some of these games on social networking sites. Like Mafia Wars for instance; basically nothing more than a database with a shitty HTML front end that offers no real game play or player interactions yet people eat it up, allowing companies like Zynga to scrap profile data or serve them "customer surveys" or "trail offers" and "free products"... People fill that crap out trading their privacy for an increase in an arbitrary value in some shitty "app".

        One question seems to be largely unanswered: of what value is months-old data, especially when many of the IP addresses contained therein are dynamic and therefore no longer tied to a specific user or machine? What is this data worth to them that there is any difficulty in convincing them to let it go? If they sent these logs straight to /dev/null, what harm would it do to their business? Or, for a less extreme scenario, if they did whatever statistical analysis they care to do and then securely wiped t

        • One question seems to be largely unanswered: of what value is months-old data

          I don't think that's largely unanswered actually - you see, month-old data is "important" to higher-ups. Being able to see data and trends makes them understand what does and does not work from a marketing perspective, and drives their decision about where to go next. Do we keep these surveys? Do we change ad providers? How can we better reach our market? This information is invaluable, and coupled with the fact that it is readily

          • by causality (777677)

            One question seems to be largely unanswered: of what value is months-old data

            I don't think that's largely unanswered actually - you see, month-old data is "important" to higher-ups. Being able to see data and trends makes them understand what does and does not work from a marketing perspective, and drives their decision about where to go next. Do we keep these surveys? Do we change ad providers? How can we better reach our market? This information is invaluable, and coupled with the fact that it is readily FREE is incentive to mine it and try to discover trends and correlation that can lead to more people clicking a banner, following a link, signing up for an offer, etc.

            I guess what I don't understand is that aggregate, non-identifiable data should be able to fulfill the needs you mention. Now, I admit I am no statistician and could certainly be wrong about that, but I've yet to see the case made that they really need personally identifiable information to fulfill those needs.

            • Well that depends on what personally identifiable means to you. Does your location count? If so, thats part of your personal information that can be used to judge regional trends. What about age? You can form demographics. E-mail address? While broad, it could be used to suggest that more people with GMail accounts are signing up, so maybe you want to partner with more Google-geared sites. Phone numbers can be used to determine location information as well as what carrier you are with. IP address again goes

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Gadget_Guy (627405) *

        We want privacy - give it to us.

        Who is this we you speak of?

        Obviously we can't tell you that. It's private!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stephanruby (542433)

        Just look at the success of some of these games on social networking sites. People fill that crap out trading their privacy for an increase in an arbitrary value in some shitty "app".

        How many people do that? Only a fraction of the population plays facebook apps. Only a fraction of those people start filling out surveys. Only a fraction still of those people remaining actually complete and submit the surveys (with the most intrusive questions/conditions/fine prints always being discovered near the end of it). Plus, some of those people who just stopped filling out those surveys midway through -- just end up sending some cash through pay pal. So what's the remaining percentage of actual

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mitchell_pgh (536538)

      From the article: "Bowing to pressure from the EU"

      I wouldn't say that Microsoft is exactly doing this by their own accord.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sopssa (1498795) *

        Even if they are not, it's a good thing. Actually the first thing I think EU has done correctly since my country joined it in early 2000. You also have to remember that Google also does business in EU area, but all of the data is stored in their US datacenters (which is quite gray area in EU law, but they are headquarted on Ireland for tax purposes so it maybe different law).

        What I mostly care about is that my data is not stored in countries overseas to me (those in US can compare this to storing your data

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mapkinase (958129)

      Google is increasingly scaring me. Eric Schmidt is the CEO of New America Foundation - a political think tank. Google's active involvement into politics reminds me of Khodorkovsky - Russian nouveau riche with greasily trail and political aspirations cut short by more ruthless political opponent.

      It is unclear now what does Google have in mind, but it will have bad outcome either for us or for them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nadaka (224565)

      Shortly thereafter it was demonstrated that right-doers could use some privacy as well [slashdot.org].

    • Re:Privacy (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @06:07PM (#30825330) Homepage Journal

      Microsoft handed over search data without being forced to do so.

      http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/government/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=177102061 [informationweek.com]

      Google was the only major search engine to fight to protect your privacy.

      Google also fought court orders in Brazil to protect privacy for their Orkut users.

      I can understand the logic of a statement that only criminals have something to hide, but in practice, Google has done more to protect your privacy than Microsoft. That is just comparing them as search companies. I won't even get into Windows and Microsoft products "phoning home" without telling you, and the latest rumors that Microsoft included a backdoor in Windows 7 for the NSA.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Gadget_Guy (627405) *

        Microsoft handed over search data without being forced to do so.

        Oh please! According the your cited article, Microsoft gave away "aggregated query data, not search results, that did not include any personally identifiable information". Google does this all the time! [google.com]

        I also equate being subpoenaed to being forced.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      One valid reason for privacy is to protect you from a form of harassment, stereotyping or prejudice.

      For example, I have views that are unpopular and some people hate with a burning passion. I still find it valuable to state those and to discuss them, because I think they are valuable. But if someone could systematize my views and track me, they would find life much more easy. Rather than seeing 50 posts that piss them off and threaten to punch holes in the story they tell, they could instead reply to everyo

    • The best thing in Bing is that it doesn't make you feel you are in bed with Microsoft. No Tahoma (the windows system font, typical of Microsoft and Windows-centric sites), no Microsoft logo, no Windows sales or XBOX references.

      I like it and I consider making it my default search provider in Firefox.

    • by Tonyzz (1725004)
      couldn't agree more
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Frater 219 (1455)

      After Google's CEO's comments about privacy is only wanted by wrongdoers

      Except, of course, that he never said that. He was asked in an interview whether users should consider Google as a "trusted friend" -- and he said no. He said that if you're doing something that you don't want anyone to know about, doing it on Google is a bad idea ... since Google is just as subject to U.S. law, including the USA PATRIOT Act, as any other company is.

      He didn't say that only wrongdoers want privacy and that everyone sh

      • Re:Privacy (Score:5, Informative)

        by olden (772043) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @09:11PM (#30827168)
        According to PCWorld [pcworld.com] and others [boingboing.net], Eric Schmidt said: (my emphasis)

        "I think judgment matters. If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place, but if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines including Google do retain this information for some time, and it's important, for example that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities."

        Sorry, this does sound to me like one of those despicable and horribly misguided "if you have nothing to hide, why would you want privacy?" line.
        I like Bruce Schneier's answer [schneier.com].

        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          CNBC's quote is useless without knowing what the actual question was, and they edited that out of their video and accompanying text. Schmidt has since contended that it was a question about activity online that is considered illegal. Without the full text of the questions leading up to this quote, we'll never really know.

          You may feel like I'm being too nice to Schmidt, but if you've ever been interviewed by a journalist, and seen that text go into a spin piece, you'll know what I'm talking about. They de

    • Yeah, and compared to the breaking wheel [wikipedia.org], Waterboarding also sounds good.

      But it’s still bad. There is no rule that one has to be good. They can just all be bad.
      Which is this case.... is the case.

      (But I agree, that that statement by Google really throws them down the ranks. I just have my doubts, because MS usually is a couple of steps more experienced in being evil. ;)

    • Er, Bing might not be 'as worse' as Google anymore when it comes to privacy, but I definitely wouldn't say it's "done correctly" either.

      You may want to check out ixquick [ixquick.com], a meta-search engine that doesn't log your IP etc at all [ixquick.com] -- that surely beats deleting some info after some time in my book.
      (better yet, ixquick is also available over SSL, in case you're concerned about your ISP snooping too... Oh, hello Comcast...)
  • Smart move Microsoft, even if it was due to pressure, not choice. This might entice a few people from Google to Bing. It certainly interests me.
  • Hah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dedazo (737510) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @06:01PM (#30825222) Journal

    Google won't follow suit? The difference here is that Bing is a loss leader for Microsoft. People want more privacy? No problem sez Microsoft, whatever. It's not like they live off the data they mine from their search engine users (which last I heard was something like 4% of the total in the US).

    For Google, government-mandated privacy regulations can really hurt the bottom line. That data and how long they can hold on to it is essentially their business model.

    I actually wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft become a champion of consumer privacy on the Internet later on... you know, for the children.

    • by mapkinase (958129)

      Boo-hoo.

      It's like saying: it's easy for you to say "do not steal", but I am a thief and my livelihood depends on it.

      Hands of my searches.

    • It's also an important part of their algorithms. You need some back data to help in analysis of the present. I think that 6 months puts the balance a little too much on the privacy side of the fence, ignoring the usability gains from more long-term storage.

  • They are hosting Bing's IP data on their Danger servers, which naturally lose data about that often.
  • If you want privacy it looks like Yahoo is clearly the winner here. Thankfully you can use their engine and avoid the madness with http://www.altavista.com/ [altavista.com]
    I never moved on to Google from Altavista and haven't seen a good reason to yet. Only reasons not to.
  • The EU is whining about Bling (which is a good thing for our privacy btw) but is also pressing for data retention laws in every EU country (ofcourse using "the war on terrorism" as its motto) and succeeded.
    The EU suggested storing the data for as long as 24 months, the Netherlands for example went for 12 months and stepped back to 6 months eventually. Belgium is probably still going for 24 months.
    Now I'm wondering who will hurt my privacy more, Bling, Google or the government with its archive of my travel d

  • More like glass half empty if you ask me. The summary should read "Microsoft To Keep Bing IP Data For 6 Months!"

    Is this what passes for "respecting privacy" in 2010? Yes, I understand that this is an improvement over it's previous policy, but in my book, logging IPs at all is too much. I'm of the opinion that anonymity is, overall, a good thing, no matter how many "terrorists" use the Internet to look up bomb recipes.

    I might be okay with private companies tracking your IP if not for the fact that these priv

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by twidarkling (1537077)

      I've never understood this "Government is evil, but corporations are good" mentality. You're fine with private companies keeping your data, so long as they don't give it to the government.

      You do realize that both are made up of people? The main difference is that if the government pisses off people, the specific people in charge will be removed, whereas with a company, they have to piss off shareholders. No, wait, I'm sorry, there is no difference. Both want your money, both don't really care about you beyo

      • by bencoder (1197139)

        At least the Government takes care of things like National Defence, and keeping roads in working order.

        Which you are forced to pay for whether you want them or not.

        Companies will give you whatever they damn well feel like giving you.

        Which you can choose to purchase or not.

        See the difference here?

        • Nope. Companies will lie, cheat, and steal whenever they can. Just because you can opt out doesn't make them better.

          • by selven (1556643)

            But when they're not lying, cheating or stealing and they're merely offering a deal which you happen to find unacceptable, they aren't doing anything wrong.

        • by Nadaka (224565)

          If you don't want national defense and roads, then stop fucking using them. If you live in America, you are using the roads and national defense. Just like with corporations, you don't have to pay if really do not want to. You just have to stop using the services provided. So get out of the god damn country.

      • by bit9 (1702770)

        Apparently, you're not big on reading peoples' entire comments before posting your own rants in response. If you'd actually bothered to slow down and read my original comment, it should have been clear that I'm quite mistrustful of corporations (although, I'm not one of those "all corporations are evil" types, nor do I believe making a profit is somehow evil). In fact, I explicitly stated that corporations are not to be trusted with your private data.

        Seriously, did you even bother to read my whole comment,

    • by pclminion (145572)

      Unfortunately, we're in the minority. Another decade or so and privacy as we understand it will be a baffling concept to almost everyone in the United States and probably most other places. We'll be considered, in the best case, quaint old geezers -- in the worst case, the most pernicious enemies of the state to ever exist, people who need to be eradicated.

    • by jim_v2000 (818799)
      To be fair, anything that you type into a search engine, ANY search engine, becomes their data, not yours. Much like your IP address, location, browser, OS, referrer, search terms, and other info become my data when you visit my website. Getting rid of it after any time is a courtesy.
      • by bit9 (1702770)

        I agree, mostly, about things like IP address and what not. I'm not advocating making it illegal to log such data. Rather, I would suggest that those who give a damn about their privacy be more careful which sites they visit.

        However, I'm not sure I agree that anything you type into a search engine ought to legally become the property of the search company. Following the logic of "if you type something into our web page, it becomes our property," that means that every email you send through GMail is not your

  • A decision about whether and how long to keep what data essentially boils down to a question of economics. Keeping some data is quite obviously valuable because it allows both for better tuning of search engine results AND targeted advertising which opens the door both to more relevant searches or better profits (most probably both). However, if keeping some data is good then keeping more is not always better. First, more data may not necessarily improve search results, particularly if the new data simply r
  • See subject. Sorry, I've not even bothered looking at Bing, so no further comment.

  • At launch of Bing I have used it to test it and I haven't found any feature that would break my addition to Google. Even if Bing was as good as Google it is still different and requires me to learn a new tool. The only reason I would have learnt a new tool would be if it was any better - but it is not. At least in my opinion.

    So my question is - does anybody even use Bing? Recently I recall that I have used Bing only when I gived the search box at MSFT KB/Support pages (which use Bing) and it just failed for

  • Why would Microsoft say "it would reduce its retention time to six months, but only if its rivals followed suit"? What difference does it make what their competitors do in this regard? How does keeping the IP data for longer give them any real advantage?

    Sure they can target advertisments based on my search queries, but then they can also do it based on the current site that I'm on. At least they know what I am reading know is still relevant to me. Ever since the court case, I'm not interested in that thing

  • Microsoft's policies will remain the same, but now, the company will delete the IP address and other info after six months.

    So their policies will remain the same, but their policies are going to change?
  • Bing just has a lot more data now than it had before. IE8 "suggested sites" feature sends everything to them. After a certain point the costs of having a dataset of enormous size begin to outweigh the benefits, so people either sample the old data, or delete it outright.

    I suspect this is what's happening in this case as well.

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