Yahoo! backtracks on data retention policy decision

In late 2008, Yahoo! announced that their file retention period for most log file data would be cut down to 90 days – with the exception of raw data kept for 6 months for fraud and security purposes.

But, as the company’s chief trust officer Anne Toth revealed in a post on the company policy blog, “over the past several years it’s clear that the Internet has changed, our business has changed, and the competitive landscape has changed,” which led a revaluation of the log file data retention policy and its closer alignment to “the competitive norm across the industry”.

“That means that after this new policy goes into effect, we will no longer apply the 90-day retention policy to raw search logs or other log file data,” explains Toth. “We will hold raw search log files for 18 months and we will be closely examining what the right policy and time frame should be for other log file data.”

Yahoo! is justifying this decision by saying it needs to in order to meet the needs of their consumers for personalization and relevance, and to have the infrastructure in place for future unspecified “innovative products.”

Users will be notified of the change in the next month or so via notifications rolled out across Yahoo!, and 30 days after that the policy will be put into effect.

As lamentable the move is, it is somewhat understandable that to compete successfully in the search business Yahoo! is forced to revert to old retention policies. Too bad that other search giants – most notably Google and Microsoft – have failed to follow its lead in 2008 when it took the plunge and shortened the search data retention period.

With the ever increasing number of breaches and compromises that have been hitting companies around the world, it is painfully obvious that information equals money. And it is probably just a matter of time until one of the search giants gets hit and the stored search data compromised and used in less-than-ethical ways. Unfortunately for the users, it is they who will be the only lasting victims of such an occurrence.

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