The European panel of national data protection officers is concerned about the time that search engines store data on their usersí search habits. The decision to broaden the probe means Google will have to wait longer to find out whether it will face any sanctions. Google attempted to calm EU concerns earlier this month by limiting the time it keeps users' personal search data to 18 months, down from the previous 24 month period. The company also promised to look at shortening the lifespan of cookies it deposits on computers.
Under Google's current solution, the logs will still be kept, but the IP addresses associated with them would be scrambled permanently after 18 months, making it impossible for anyone (including Google) to associate the information with the original users.
Both Yahoo and Microsoft also said to take their usersí privacy very seriously. If search engines like Google, MSN, and Yahoo don't comply with the commissionís requirements for privacy, they may face hefty fines from the EU until they figure out some way to resolve privacy issues.