Privacy advocates have consistently questioned the data capture policies of large scale search engines, such as Google, Microsoft Bing and Yahoo. Google and Microsoft have each taken widely different approaches to the issue.
Microsoft search engine Bing announced Monday a change to its Internet Protocol (IP) address capture policies that is designed to limit its storage of IP addresses according to a report in InformationWeek. The move will see IP addresses being captured and retained for a much shorter time period and will be deleted after a six month period. While Bing received only slightly over three percent of search queries, its growth is sustained.
Internet search giant Google has over 85 percent of the global search traffic. It has recently altered its capture policies as well, anonymizing IP addresses after nine months and cookies after 18 months. However, some privacy advocates claim that Google’s policy of deleting the last four digits of an IP address is insufficient.
In response to Google’s perceived intrusive policy, a hacker has developed a free anonymization service that prevents Google from tracking websites and searches produced by Internet users, according to a report on TheRegister.co.uk. The service routes traffic and mixes data with other user’s, confusing Google’s data capturing technology. Google is unable to determine where the search requests originated from.