Microsoft Cuts IP Storage in Bing Search Engine

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has made its next move against competitor Google by publicly announcing that it will remove the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of logged searches from its servers after 6 months of storage.

Back in September of 2008, search engine goliath Google announced it would begin anonymizing IP addresses logged in its servers after nine months, a reduction by half from its previous 18. Cookies would also be removed after this time.

Google Critics: Time Frame Still Not Enough

Privacy advocates have criticized Google for not doing enough, since the company only bothers to remove the last of four sets of numbers in an IP address, meaning someone ingenious enough might figure out how to reconstruct the information.

In an effort to one-up Google, Microsoft has announced its data retention policy will now call for storage of IP addresses for just six months. The company's chief privacy strategist, Peter Cullen, noted that the new policy reflects a number of Microsoft's desires, the most important being an interest in keeping competitive and responding to dialogue from privacy advocates and other consumers.

Keeping Bing Growth Steady

In essence, the idea is to keep Bing's growth steady. At the moment, Microsoft's search engine, unveiled last May, owns about 3.27 per cent of global search queries. Google's share is, by comparison, enormous, in December sitting at 85.34 per cent.

Still, in a market where growth is slow and each percentage a world of improvement, Bing's numbers after less than a year are nothing to curtly dismiss.

On the surface at least, the announcement does make Google look bad. That company has previously appeared reluctant to anonymize its data any faster than nine months, blaming worries over a "potential loss of security, quality, and innovation that may result from having less data." (Source:

MS Promises Best of Both Worlds

On the issue of security and quality of service, Microsoft promises users of Bing can now have the best of both worlds. Cullen noted that his company's policy change "enables us to improve the quality of our results, protect against fraud and maintain a secure and viable business."

In other words, Microsoft Bing users can have their cake and eat it, too.

Microsoft's new search policy will take shape over the next 12 to 18 months. (Source:

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