back to article EU demands Google slashes cookie retention times

An influential EC policy group, the Article 29 Working Party, is calling on search engines to delete users' cookies within six months - a much shorter period than that typically used by Google, MSN, and Yahoo! Google volunteered to anonymise information held after 18 to 24 months following earlier EC concerns. After further …

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Black Helicopters

What's Google's definition of anonymize?

As we are all aware, even "anonymized" search engine data can be used to identify living individuals:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/09/technology/09aol.html

And cookies are getting such a bad name of late. The actual cookie expiry time is somewhat irrelevant. I set a cookie for 6 months. Visitor comes back to my site in a month's time. I use the UUID from the existing cookie and plant a refreshed cookie that lasts 6 months from that date.

The expiry time is only relevant when a visitor doesn't come to my site for many many months.

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Pirate

Search personalisation?

Hmmm. I just tried a series of searches for various terms from 4 different computers, one I use all the time, one sometimes, 2 never. The only thing that changed between the searches was the adverts. Didn't go deep but the first page of results were always in the exact same order, showing an identical number of results.

Strange that my individually tailored results appear to be identical to those of somebody who have never used Google, but the adverts aren't. But I suppose adverts count as information (unwanted, but information still), and reading their blog comment I guess that's what they must be referring to:

"Today, a Google search is far more likely to provide you with the information you're looking for that it did a few years ago."

Well, I'm inspired now to find or write a greasemonkey/stylish script which will remove their sponsored links from my results entirely, because I don't like their slimy wording.

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Thumb Down

I have personalised results enabled...

...don't think I've ever noticed a difference

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Silver badge
Thumb Down

Useful results?

"Today, a Google search is far more likely to provide you with the information you're looking for that it did a few years ago."

Yeah right. More likely to turn up a link farm, fake search engine or similar site used to boost the rankings of another site than it did a few years ago would be more accurate.

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Silver badge
Pirate

Go on, Sergey and Larry, don't be coy and cowed by penpushers.

I wonder if Google will tell them to mind their own business. They deserve it.

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Stop

Does anyone keep em anyway?

I bin all cookies every time I close Firefox. Surely everyone does the same? TBH it really doesn't seem to affect my browsing experience..

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Bronze badge

Tum-Tee-Tum

scroogle.org

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RW
Dead Vulture

Grammar Police Citation...

...against the Register.

That headline should read "EU Demand Google Slash Cookie Retention Times."

There's an implicit "that" betw. "demand" and "google".

My instruction in English language grammar was afflicted with Latinisms like indicative, imperative, subjunctive, and infinite moods, so I regret I am unable to give a clear explanation other than "that's the correct idiom."

Bad vulture!

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Stop

Say what?

"Today, a Google search is far more likely to provide you with the information you're looking for that it did a few years ago."

"information" in this context = Google Ads

But I'm NOT looking for adverts, not then, not now, not ever.

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Silver badge

"Based on our own analysis"

Wonderful justification, Google.

Based on my analysis, my IP is like my home address. I'll give it to you if I have to, but I expect you to be well-behaved enough to not come knocking without an invitation

Especially if you come to sell me something.

But this is all irrelevant anyway. In my hosts file, I have the major ad servers redirected to 127.0.0.1, and I use Firefox with Adblock.

Ads ? I used to see them.

Have fun with your cookies, Google.

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Silver badge
Linux

@ Alan Parsons

Same here -- actually, I have Iceweasel / Minefield Beta configured to ask me every time. That way, I can inspect cookies as they are delivered.

More than three, or a single Urchin Tracking cookie, though, and the site gets cookies blocked for good.

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Anonymous Coward

don't trust google

Why don't you all use gzapper, and end the problem once and for all.

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More a user issue, surely?

I'm not taking sides for or against the EU or Google. But I think the issue of regulating cookie retention is over-rated.

The answer, surely, is in the users' hands? The commonly used browsers - IE6, IE7, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Konquerer - all have the facility to delete cookies (either by demand or on exit). Most have the facility to do so selectively - that is, for users to select which cookies to delete.

Personally, I set my browser to delete all cookies on exit. I know that some people like or need cookie-reliant functionality on some sites so I concede that indiscriminate deletion isn't always an attractive option.

Ultimately it's up to the user how much she or he values their privacy. The paranoid can renew browser sessions between every site; they can set security and privacy settings to 'high'; they can disable Active X (in IE) or run add-ons such as NoScript; they can empty caches or set their browser not to cache anything; they can run Stephen Gould's CleanUp! utility after every browser session; they can break and re-establish their DSL connection to gain a new IP address (assuming their ISP provides dynamically assigned IPs) ; and if they're not in a hurry then can use Anonymouse or Tor.

And all that without any intervention by our masters in Brussels.

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