Is Google's Latest Privacy Move Just Smoke and Mirrors?

Nemo - September 11, 2008 09:41AM in Internet

Earlier this week Google announced they would reduce the amount of time it retains users' IP addresses and search information from 18 months to nine months. On the surface this seems like a positive move on the search giant's part. As one blogger puts it, this is laughable as a closer level of analysis reveals two problems. Google stores each user's IP address, the search terms and cookie identifier every time a search is performed. After 18 months, Google anonymizes the IP address by removing the last 8 bits of the IP address and scrubs the cookie information using an undisclosed process. Under the new policy, Google will remove some of the bits of the IP address, but not as many as they now do after 18 months. That by itself is pretty weak, but the real problem is that the cookie information will not be touched allowing anyone with access to that information to easily reverse the anonymization process.