This is a “praise, critique, praise sandwich” post.
Today, we’re announcing a new logs retention policy: we’ll anonymize IP addresses on our server logs after 9 months. We’re significantly shortening our previous 18-month retention policy to address regulatory concerns and to take another step to improve privacy for our users…
…Today, we are filing this response (PDF file) to the EU privacy regulators. Since we announced our original logs anonymization policy, we have had literally hundreds of discussions with data protection officials, government leaders and privacy advocates around the world to explain our privacy practices and to work together to develop ways to improve privacy. When we began anonymizing after 18 months, we knew it meant sacrifices in future innovations in all of these areas. We believed further reducing the period before anonymizing would degrade the utility of the data too much and outweigh the incremental privacy benefit for users.
Now the critique. Why aren’t you asking users if they’re prepared to sacrifice a little relevance, a little innovation, in exchange for more privacy? Why are you intent on acting like Big Brother and telling us little users what’s good for us. Why can’t we have a say?
Google’s probably one of the few companies in the world, that I trust to secure my data. Reducing its data retention from 18 to 9 months is a big step. An even bigger one would be to let us decide just how long Google gets to play with our personal data.