Bing data retention reduced to six months

Microsoft has announced it will store Bing search IP address data for half a year, rather than 18 months
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

Microsoft has agreed to reduce the length of time it retains Bing users' IP address data.

The company's chief privacy strategist Peter Cullen announced on Monday that Microsoft will discard IP addresses associated with search queries after six months. Microsoft's present policy is that Bing users' IP addresses are stored together with search queries and anonymised cookies for 18 months.

"We will delete the entire internet protocol address associated with search queries at six months rather than at 18 months," said Cullen in a blog post. "This new and significant step will be incorporated into our existing privacy practices, which already provide strong protections for Bing users."

Microsoft made the change in response to an April 2008 recommendation by the Article 29 Working Party, an influential group of privacy specialists who advise the European Commission on data-protection issues.

The group said Microsoft, Google and Yahoo should change their data-retention policies, to minimise the amount of search data they retain and increase consumer privacy.

On Tuesday the European Commission voiced its approval of Microsoft's data-retention announcement.

"The Commission welcomes Microsoft's decision. It's in line with the recommendations of the Article 29 group," the Commission's acting spokeswoman for justice Chantal Hughes told ZDNet UK. "This is good news for European citizens."

Microsoft first indicated that it would cut time data retention time in December 2008, after the April 2008 meeting with the Article 29 Working Party.

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