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Yahoo Strengthens Privacy Protections

Yahoo said Wednesday that it will make its user logs anonymous within 90 days as it ups the ante on data retention policies.

In a statement (Techmeme), Yahoo said it would also make user data on page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks anonymous as well as its user logs. The only exceptions would be for "fraud, security and legal obligations."

Clearly, Yahoo, Google and others are racing to the bottom on data retention policies. In particular, Google and Yahoo have been playing a game of privacy leapfrog.

In September, Google said it would make its user logs anonymous after 9 months, a vast improvement over its previous 18-month policy. Google, which was pressured by regulators, said that 9 months was a good balance between "sometimes conflicting factors like privacy, security and innovation." In July 2007, Yahoo went with a 13 month purge policy.

Anne Toth, Yahoo's head of privacy, said that 90 days was the minimum time it needed to retain user data for business purposes. Yahoo reached that conclusion after a review of its data policies across the globe and consulting business, engineering, governance and product teams.

As for the exceptions Yahoo said:

To protect users and our business partners, there will be some specific and limited exceptions to the anonymization policy. In order to fight fraud and preserve system security, Yahoo will retain system specific data in identifiable form for no more than 6 months -- but only for this purpose. Yahoo may have to retain data for longer periods to meet other legal obligations.
Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and Editorial Director of ZDNet sister site TechRepublic. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations. This post first appeared on ZDNet's Between the Lines blog.