Microsoft yesterday submitted its response to the Article 29 Working Party’s Opinion on search privacy and announced its support of the Working Party’s call for an industry standard for search data anonymisation timeframes and methods.

Microsoft’s John Vassallo commented:

Microsoft Supports Strong Industry Search Data Anonymisation StandardsIn April 2008, the Article 29 Working Party issued an Opinion regarding steps that search providers needed to take to improve consumer privacy protection. The Article 29 Working Party is named after the part of Directive 95/46/EC relating to personal data protection and represents all European national data protection authorities. Specifically, the Working Party requested that companies reduce the amount of time they retain search data prior to anonymisation to six months and that companies adopt strong anonymisation methods.

Today, Microsoft has announced that we are prepared to meet the Article 29 Working Party’s search anonymisation guidelines, but believe it is imperative that all search companies adopt the same standard to truly protect people’s privacy. We’ve evaluated the multiple uses of search data and believe that we can, in time, move to a six month timeframe while retaining our strong method of anonymisation.

We are prepared to make this change and applaud the Working Party for its leadership on industry standards and look forward to continuing a productive dialogue with them and other key stakeholders on how to make industry standards a reality.”

You can read an in-depth interview with John Vassallo and Peter Cullen on Microsoft’s response to the Article 29 Working Party’s Opinion on search privacy here.