TrustArc Blog

Microsoft & Yahoo!: Commitment to Transparency and Accountability

July 29, 2009

Finally! From business and market perspective, the announced deal between Yahoo and Microsoft make sense. While questions of sharing and data retention have been raised from a privacy perspective, I’m pleased that an initial review of the privacy program elements that our sealholders Yahoo! and Microsoft have put forward, represent a strong awareness of the importance of consumer privacy protections and a commitment to transparency and accountability.

As a privacy advisor through nearly a decade on matters of consumer notices and privacy policies, I’m aware of extensive discussions that have taken place to clearly delineate limits to use of data and applicable retention policies. Yahoo! and other search engines have been outsourcing search for many years, and already have some disclosures that address this in the case of Yahoo!–Altavista, then Google and Inktomi. Having reviewed the Yahoo! and Microsoft privacy statements numerous times, and providing guidance on notice and choice, there are far more privacy protections now than ever.

Now the work comes in conveying very transparently to consumers what the service and its privacy impact will be with regard to sharing and retaining information. TRUSTe is ready to help. What we know so far needs to be communicated to users is the following:

• In discussing new privacy implications, according to Yahoo!, one element of the deal was agreement that Microsoft will adhere to Yahoo’s 90 day retention for search queries and IP addresses passed to them by Yahoo! to provide the search service.
• Microsoft will be limited in its use of search data received from Yahoo!. Data collected or derived under the deal will be used only for the purpose of providing and improving search services. The data will not be used by Microsoft for services outside of search, such as display advertising.

The website they have created to provide additional information is here:

– Posted by Fran Maier, CEO