Thursday, March 15, 2007

Google takes steps to protect privacy

Wired brings an AP story of how Google is working on protecting searchers' privacy: Google to Adopt New Privacy Measures

Google Inc. is adopting new privacy measures to make it more difficult to connect online search requests with the people making them - a thorny issue that provoked a showdown with the U.S. government last year.

This sounds good, but don't assume that your weird searches on how to build nuclear weapons are safe from the authorities just yet.

Google believes it can provide more assurances of privacy by removing key pieces of identifying information from its system every 18 to 24 months. The timetable is designed to comply with a hodgepodge of laws around the world that dictate how long search engines are supposed to retain user information.

Authorities still could demand to review personal information before Google purges it or take legal action seeking to force the company to keep the data beyond the new time limits.

While it's not as good as many of us could probably wish for, it's a step in the right direction, and probably as much as we could hope for, given the current laws.

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