Updating our Log File Data Retention Policy to Put Data to Work for Consumers

Today, Yahoo! is making an announcement of our intention to change our log file data retention policy to meet the needs of our consumers for personalization and relevance, while living up to their expectations of trust.  Over the last 3 years, the way we and other companies offer services online and the way consumers experience the Internet has changed dramatically.  So, we will keep our log file data longer than we have been – offering consumers a more robust individualized experience – while we continue our innovation in the areas of transparency and choice to protect privacy.  We believe it’s a move forward for Yahoo! and our users.

In late 2008, after a careful review of our data systems and needs and after a great deal of discussion among policymakers about how long search companies should hold search log file data, Yahoo! announced a log file data retention policy that set us apart from the rest of our industry. We worked to minimize our log file retention to 90-days for most log file data, noting certain exceptions where we hold raw data for up to 6 months for fraud and security purposes and as long as necessary to meet our legal obligations. Our goal with this log file data retention policy was to continue to offer best-in-class, competitive products while striving to minimize how much raw data we held.

Today our goals remain the same – keep data as long as we need to and meet our consumers’ expectations on trust. While these things are fundamental to us, over the past several years it’s clear that the Internet has changed, our business has changed, and the competitive landscape has changed.  We have been reevaluating our log file data retention policy in light of these changes and as a result of this review we are moving to align our log file data retention policy closer to the competitive norm across the industry.  That means that after this new policy goes into effect, we will no longer apply the 90-day retention policy to raw search logs or other log file data.  We will hold raw search log files for 18 months and we will be closely examining what the right policy and time frame should be for other log file data.  In announcing this change, we have gone back to the drawing board to ensure that our policies will support the innovative products we want to deliver for our consumers.

Yahoo! has not been standing still on privacy. Over the past 3 years we have focused enormous resources on front-end transparency and meaningful choice for consumers. This is evidenced by our Ad Interest Manager tool and our commitment to CLEAR Ad Notice – privacy icons delivered with ads all across the Yahoo! network to give users control over customized advertising. We are continuing to improve these tools, are active in discussions on how to integrate browser-based Do-Not-Track tools into existing privacy models, and are working on even more consumer tools within Yahoo! products designed to put more control our users’ hands.  Privacy has always been a core value of this company.

Transparency with our users is the foundation of what builds trust. That’s why we are telling our users about these changes now, well ahead of when they go into effect. In the next 4-6 weeks we will begin rolling out notifications across Yahoo! to ensure that we have given clear and understandable notice to our consumers of this change in our policy.  Thirty days after we have completed these notifications, we will put the new policy into effect.  We expect this will occur sometime in mid-to-late July.

No policy exists in a vacuum and every company has to continually reevaluate what serves its consumers best over time. Changes like these are never undertaken lightly. We at Yahoo! are incredibly proud of the innovative new products we have launched and have lined up in the coming months for our users around the globe. We have a world-class research team using data to improve consumer experiences. We have a product team dedicated to innovative new products and features like Search Direct and Livestand.  And we remain one of the most visited and trusted sites in the world. We want to stay that way by putting our users’ data to work for them to make every visit to Yahoo! better than the last.

Anne Toth
Chief Trust Officer

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