This Christmas, Internet company Yahoo gave its users an early Christmas present – a new data retention policy, promising to anonymize user data after 90 days.
The information found in user log files has been a contentious issue – while some argue the data itself might not contain personally identifiable information about the user, it can still be used to create a snapshot of that user, providing useful tidbits like where and when they go online, and what they’re searching for. When you combine that information with, say, account information from a web-based e-mail account, photo blog, or personal profile on a social networking site, the snapshot that emerges is a fairly detailed one. (Over at slaw.ca, David Fraser explains how these log files work.)
On Christmas Eve, the New York Times supported Yahoo’s announcement in an editorial calling Yahoo’s new policy “considerably better” than those of Google or Microsoft when it came to protecting the privacy of its users. “Internet users should be able to control how much of their personal data companies keep,” said the Gray Lady.
We say it’s all about personal control.