House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has given Yahoo! a shout-out for its efforts to protect personal information.
Markey lauded Yahoo!’s decision to limit the time it keeps personal information on Web searches to 90 days, and called on other companies to follow suit.
The company said the policy change came after regulators, legislators and other asked the industry to reexamine privacy policies.
Yahoo! said Wednesday that it would anonymize user data within 90 days, with some limited exceptions for things like fraud, security (up to six months) and certain legal obligations. However, it did not elaborate on those legal obligations and put no timetable on retaining information for those purposes. Yahoo! said the policy will apply not only to search data, but also to page views, ad views, and clicks.
Online privacy has been a growing concern on Capitol Hill as more media companies search for ways to target advertising to the online audience for entertainment and information. Markey held hearings on the issue this year and helped quash a test by ad-tracking company NebuAd and cable operator Charter Communications.
“Privacy is a cornerstone of freedom and I applaud Yahoo’s announcement today for recognizing that consumers deserve ample privacy protections in the digital era to ensure trust and freedom on the Internet," said Markey in a statement Wednesday. "I have been pressing online companies for greater voluntary efforts to refrain from the massive, systematic gathering of information about individual consumer web use and the long term retention of such data in a form that can identify the web habits, interests, searches, and purchases of individual Americans.
“Today, Yahoo voluntarily sets a new standard for such privacy protection, a standard against which Microsoft, Google, and others will now be compared. I urge other leading online companies to match or beat the commitments announced by Yahoo.”
Some media activists argue that the next media consolidation battleground will be over targeted and tracked embedded online marketing as traditional media companies become more entrenched in the online space and migrate their advertisers there.
Markey plans to introduce "comprehensive" online privacy legislation in the next Congress