Mobile // Mobile Applications
News
12/9/2008
02:27 PM
50%
50%

Microsoft Search Pledge Meaningless Without Google

Redmond's offer to limit data retention to six months in Europe needs rival's cooperation.

Microsoft this week revealed plans to limit retention of Internet search data in Europe to six months, but said it would follow through on the offer only if other search companies, most notably Google, follow in step.

"We don't believe that Microsoft moving alone will offer the level of consumer protection desired," wrote Microsoft chief privacy strategist Peter Cullen, in a blog post.

While that might sound like so much corporate buck-passing, Cullen has a point -- and not for reasons Microsoft is likely to brag about. That fact is, the European search market is even more dominated by Google than the U.S. market.

Google sites control about 80% of the market in Europe, compared to Microsoft's puny 2% stake. Even if Microsoft acquires Yahoo's search operations, a scenario that's becoming increasingly likely, its share would rise only to 4%. Clearly, Microsoft acting alone on search privacy initiatives would do little to assuage Internet users' fears that corporate marketers are tracking their every click.

For its part, Google has yet to state whether it plans to adopt guidelines similar to what Microsoft is proposing.

Microsoft's proposal came in response to a European Commission recommendation that Internet search providers "anonymize" user data after six months in order to protect privacy. Currently, most providers maintain such data for more than a year.

Cullen concedes that concerns are not unwarranted: "There have been documented instances of when search queries can be linked across sessions and over time, some individual users can possibly be identified, even in the absence of a full or partial" Internet address.

"Consumers want assurance that their privacy is protected while also being provided with search and other online services that meet their needs," wrote Cullen.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of January 18, 2015.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.