Google Cuts How Long it Stores Users Personal Data

MOUNTAIN VIEW,California (Reuters) – Google Inc has halved the amount of time itstores personal data gathered from its users’ Web surfing habits, amove aimed at improving its privacy policies, a company official said.

Google used to store such data for 18 months, but has now trimmed that duration to nine months.

Nicole Wong, Google’s deputy general counsel, told a meeting ofcomputer industry privacy experts at Microsoft Corp’s Silicon Valleyoffices that her company planned to "anonymize" the computer addressesof its users more quickly.

"We’re significantly shortening our previous 18-month retentionpolicy to address regulatory concerns and to take another step toimprove privacy for our users," Google officials said in a blog postreleased Monday night.

Peter Cullen, chief privacy strategist for Microsoft Corp, saidGoogle’s move was done in response to pressure from European regulatorsand by industry rivals.

Cullen, who was taking part in panel discussion with Wong, said thatuntil a year-and-a-half ago, Google had kept personally identifiableinformation about its Web users on company computers for an indefiniteamount of time.

Google adopted an 18-month privacy policy only after pressure from the European Union, he said.

(Reporting by Eric Auchard; Editing by Derek Caney)