In what appears to be a partial victory of the defenders of the privacy of personal data, the most used search engine of the internet has announced that the “cookies” that are generated when an internet user enters in its web will self-destruct in two years. Google, like the other search engines such as Yahoo! Or MSN, will be investigated by European and Spanish authorities to see if they comply with the noted norm of data protection.
The “cookies” are small text files that serve to, amongst other things, allow the search engine to remember certain preferences of the internet users, such as the predetermined language, user name, or city from which they write. Thanks to them, it is not necessary to introduce the data of user access of a forum or e-mail account each time that they access said service.
Nevertheless, the defending associations of the privacy in communications believe that the “cookies” can be used also so that businesses and governments control the sites for wich a user navigates, the messages that he or she writes in a forum or the “blogs” that he or she looks at, through the searches made in the search engine.
Peter Fleischer, in charge of the privacy politics of Google, assures in a message that “by listening to the reactions of the users, we have concluded that it would be good for the privacy to significantly shorten the life time of the ‘cookies.’” Until now, the Palo alto business had it set that these small files were active until erased automatically after 30 years. Several companies for the privacy of the web have asked Google previously for more control over the information that it saves of users.
According to Fleischer, the company “has looked for a manner of doing it without forcing the users to reintroduce their basic data and preferences in an arbitrary way.” That’s why, when an internet user visits Google, a “cookie” will be downloaded in his or her computer and, if he or she does not enter again in the search engine’s web in the period of two years, it will self-destruct.
In March the internet giant announced that it would convert the information that it receives from its users anonimously in 18 months. Until this announcement, Google had been able to maintain in an indefinite manner the personal information of any who used its services.
Now Google is the only large search engine that has realized an official pronouncement relating to the privacy of the IP addresses or that has announed a shortening of the life of “cookies.”