San Francisco: Google Inc. cut the time it keeps the personal search records of its users, an effort to quell privacy concerns raised by European regulators.
The owner of the most popular Internet search engine will retain the records for 18 months, down from 24. Google described the new policy in a post on its website written by Peter Fleischer, chief privacy lawyer for the Mountain View, California-based company.
Privacy groups have expressed concern that search engines collect too much user information during Internet queries. Google said last month it received a letter from the EU’s data-protection advisory agency asking the company to explain why it keeps records of users’ searches. Fleischer responded by sending a letter on 10 June to Peter Schaar, chairman of the EU’s Data Protection Working Party in Brussels.
“A public discussion is needed between officials working in data protection and law enforcement to resolve these issues,” Fleischer wrote in the letter.
Google needs to keep logs of personal queries to refine the quality of searches and to prevent fraud and abuse, Fleischer said. He also said there was confusion throughout Europe about different countries’ privacy guidelines.
Google’s new policy comes three days after Privacy International, a London-based advocacy group, issued a report entitled “A Race to the Bottom” calling Google the worst violator of Internet users’ privacy.
The group’s report said Google displayed “comprehensive consumer surveillance and entrenched hostility to privacy.”
Meanwhile, Google Inc. on Wednesday announced that its popular video sharing site, YouTube, will begin testing video recognition technology in an effort to help remove pirated content.
The test will begin next month with hopes that the software, designed to recognize copyright content in videos, will be ready to roll out later this year, the company said. The testing will be in conjunction with partners Time Warner Inc. and The Walt Disney Co. Google Inc. has pledged to adopt some kind of solution to identify copyright content on its site so it can remove pirated content or negotiate with owners for a license.
Gary Gentile of AP contributed to this story.