The European Union data privacy Working Party has decided to expand its probe of search engine privacy practices beyond Google to include other Web Search services, which would seem to mean at least Yahoo and Microsoft’s Live Search.
A European Union probe triggered by concerns over how long Google Inc. stores user information has widened to include all Internet search engines.
The EU’s panel of national data protection officers said it’s now concerned over the retention of data that the companies use to deliver more relevant search results and advertising. Some fear the data could be targeted by hackers and governments.
Microsoft Corp., which operates the third-largest search engine in the U.S. behind Google and Yahoo Inc., said it has not had a formal conversation with the Working Party.
“We recognize that online search is creating legitimate concerns about privacy and are actively engaged with data protection authorities around the world to ensure that our practices meet the highest standards when it comes to protecting privacy,” Peter Cullen, the company’s chief privacy strategist, said in an e-mailed statement.
It should be interesting since one of the selling points of Microsoft’s search advertising is better user targeting. In fact there’s a post today at the adCenter Blog extolling the virtues of targeting by age and gender:
I’m sure the EU folks would love a detailed explanation of that.