Microsoft today announced that it is cutting the number of months it retains "the entire Internet Protocol address associated with search queries" to six months. This is down from the 18 months it takes under current policy.
"This change is the result of a number of factors including a continuing evaluation of our business needs, the current competitive landscape and our ongoing dialogue with privacy advocates, consumer groups, and regulators – including the Article 29 Working Party, the group of 27 European national data protection regulators charged with providing advice to the European Commission and other EU institutions on data protection, " Microsoft said in a statement.
Microsoft says the new time limit will come into effect over the next 12 to 18 months, adding that the core components of its policy will remain the same.
At present Microsoft's policy is as follows:
As soon as Microsoft receives a Bing search query we take steps to de-identify the data by separating it from account information that could identify the person who performed the search. Then, at 18 months, we take the additional step of deleting the IP address, the de-identified cookie ID and any other cross-session IDs associated with the query.