Even if Facebook’s received the lion’s share of attention from privacy advocates today, a group of European data protection authorities hasn’t forgotten about Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. The Article 29 Data Protection Working Party said earlier they’re still not obeying an EU data protection directive.
The companies are all supposed to anonymize search data after no more than six months. Google’s keeping it for nine, instead, and the Working Party asserted in an open letter to the search giant that it’s doing a poor job of anonymization afterward.
Yahoo, meanwhile, has started to delete some information after just 90 days, and although that fact earned it a nod, the Working Party has concerns about the way both it and Microsoft claim to anonymize data, as well.This could become a significant problem for the three search companies. The Working Party sent letters to the chairman of the U.S. Federation Trade Commission and the vice president of the European Commission regarding its findings, meaning there could be regulatory consequences rather than plain negative press.
The letter to the FTC in part stated, "I shared our concerns and have asked the FTC to examine the compatibility of this behaviour with section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the marketplace."