On Friday Yahoo changed its existing policy of data retention, which preserved search data for three months, and has now increased the retention period for user search data to 18 months.
The decision comes as a shock to privacy advocates who argue that user data should be deleted on a regular basis, and a privacy backlash is possible in the days ahead.
Citing changes in the competitive landscape, Yahoo announced that it will wait an additional 15 months to analyze raw search data starting this July. Anne Toth, Yahoo’s chief trust officer released a statement saying that the company will closely examine the policyto determine the best timeframe to store other log file data.
This reverses the trend of reducing data retention times: in September 2008 Google reduced the time from 18 months to nine month, and Yahoo reduced it from 13 months to three months.
Yahoo is now claiming that other companies' policies have changed over the past few years and that the competitive landscape has changed too. Moreover, Toth reported that the company is actively discussing integrating browser based Do-not-Track tools and other consumer tools to give users more control of their data.