A group of European data protection authorities, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, has today told the three major search engine operators -- Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! -- that they are still not doing enough to keep user search data anonymous, under the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC.
In particular, the Working Party said in a press release, external auditors need to be used to confirm the search operators' commitment to compliance, and data retention times need to be reduced to six months. The release continued:
In its letter to Google, the Working Party asks the company to cut the retention period from the current nine months to six months. Considering Google’s dominant position in almost every EU Member State, with a market share of up to 95% in some national search engine markets, the company has a significant role in European citizens’ daily lives. The company’s apparent lack of focus in data retention is concerning.
The Working Party contacted the search engine companies by letter, sending copies to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Viviane Reding, EC vice-president for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citzenship.
ZDNet UK has been in contact with the Working Party and all three companies asking for more details and responses, and will report on replies if and when received.