European privacy policy debate has the wrong focus

By July 12, 2007 2 Comments

The debate about how long Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft should be allowed to keep our search data is, in IMHO, a bit of a waste of time.

By way of background:

  • Google announced in March that it would anonymise user data after 18-24 months
  • In a similar vein Microsoft and Yahoo! announced last week they would alter their privacy policies (nice to be able to link to the FT – thanks guys)

For me the bigger issue is what they do with it, not how long they keep it.  The value (usefulness) of the data must fall off pretty quickly after 18 months anyway.

What I would like to see is the debate focusing on what the data could be used for – good and bad.  That way we might actually move forward to the sorts of things Luke and I have been talking about.  At the moment the whole issue is immersed in a fog which means that fear wins out over reason every time.

There is so much value to be unlocked that I am confident that were we to have this debate a consensus in favour of keeping and using personal data will start to emerge. 

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