back to article Google to ‘anonymize’ user IPs after 9 months

After continued pressure from EU regulators, Google has once again revised its data retention policies, saying it will "anonymize" user IP addresses after 9 months. On Monday, Google deputy counsel Nicole Wong announced the change during an online privacy panel discussion in Mountain View, California – though she initially …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    call me cynical

    google are committed to finding a way to de anonymize the data they have sort of anonymized.

    but, still better than nothing.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Exactly how hard is it to write a script that scans a log file and on discovering an IP address replaces it with blanks or x's for lass than given date entry?

    I might be overly suspicious here, but perhaps the big G has an alterior motive in trying to keep this information...hmm.. Imust think about that.

    Paris, because well you know, logs.. and .. yeah, too obvious huh?

  3. Gary

    And people want Android?

    What will google do? Record your phone calls? Store your text messages? No thank you.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Read between the lines

    >Anonymization meant "changing some of the bits" in a stored IP address, making "it less likely that the IP address can be associated with a specific computer or user."

    That means they may change the IP address in a way that looks random, but if need be they can reconstitute it if they want to.

  5. Kevin Kitts

    Why believe them?

    How are independent inspectors going to check on the data to make sure it's "anonymized"? This is like inspecting nuclear facilities - will they even let you in the facility, much less give you full access? I think not. Even then, they can play 3-card monte with the data, and nobody would be any wiser.

    Oh, and about the changing of bits - Google will create the algorithm to swap the bits, so they already have the inverse function to "un-anonymize" them.

    It's all moot, though. Unless the EU can actually bring a lawsuit in a US court, or unless they tell Google to stuff it, the data's going to be captured anyway, whether the EU likes it or not. Why? Because there's no oversight in America anymore. "Rights"? What does that mean?

    Mine's the coat with the Illuminati pyramid on the back of it, and "1984" stitched on the right front pocket. As George Carlin said, "enjoy your snooze".

  6. Anonymous Coward

    They have my details

    In my google account is... well, most important data about me. DOB, card details, address, etc. So I don't really mind them having my browsing habits. Just so long as they don't tell work about some of them... :P

    To keep this clean, I'm talking El-Reg during work hours.

    If I was to delete my account with them, does anyone know if my details stay in limbo or if they all get deleted?

    I would have more of a problem if they were selling the details to someone else rather than just serving me targeted ads that I can opt to not look at / block etc.

  7. Louis

    "anonymize after xxx time"...

    It's a big lie anyway, as everytime you do anything on Google's servers, the cookie is renewed, so it's 18 months after your last visit... and from what I understand, it isn't the cookie at your end that makes a difference, as I only allow mine for the current session...

    Cheeky bastards.

  8. John

    Obvious loophole ...

    So if they give a 'feed' to <insert government agency of choice> within the 9 month period then the very people we should be wary of the most will have one thing I would rather they didn't.

    And yes I am far more worried about gov't agencies than terrorists or paedophiles.

    The former are are ubiquitous and armed with sweeping powers, the latter are rarer than rocking horse shit, and I've never seen one.

    So perhaps I'm hiding something illegal? No I don't think so, but do you know every single law and offence both home and abroad? I certainly don't. What they don't know won't hurt me, and I don't need to fret about the details.

    Oh and if you think 'common sense' will prevail, then you're not living in the UK mate. Anti-terrorism legislation is being used to harass dog owners.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    Soon everyone will be using our browser... we don't *need* no steenkin' IPs.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SCookies - Firefox

    S, if i use scookies in Firefox and swap my cookies with others on a regular basis, who really can say what i visited -

  11. Thought About IT

    Alternative search

    I use scroogle (be careful, that's, NOT!) for searches that I want to keep private. I don't trust google not to misuse the data they are storing on us all.

  12. adnim

    How is essential is Google?

    If one is worried about Google, it's spying and data retention practices there is a solution: Don't use them.

    Don't whine about what you fear they may use your personal information and data for, how long they may retain it and who they may supply it to. Block all scripts from Google and stay away from their servers. It really is that simple. If you need Googles superior, and I guess it is, search functionality, use Scroogle or search through a proxy server. Search is the only service Google offer that I actually NEED, there are alternatives, but Google do appear to be the best in this area. Everything else is available elsewhere in one form or another. I will never place personal, private or sensitive data and documentation on Google. I will never use Gmail, hotmail or Yahoo mail either.

    Unfortunately 90% of Internet users are clueless. What ease of use actually translates to is further dominance of the Internet by those players with the majority of exposure.

  13. James
    Paris Hilton

    Misses the point

    The IP address which submitted any given query is irrelevant after 9 months anyway: it doesn't uniquely identify you (most of them are dynamic anyway, so the guy using today probably isn't the same guy using it tomorrow) or provide a way to contact you. There's stuff Google have on most of us which is actually personal, like our e-mail addresses and search histories — the IP addresses are a complete red herring.

    Paris, because she'd probably fall for the red herring too.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not impressed

    OK, so it's the law in the EU that they aren't allowed to store unnecessary personal data. So why aren't they just complying instead of giving us all the impression they'd much rather be breaking the law if only they could get away with it?

    It's like I'm allowed to keep stealing money from accounts at my bank because I used to steal a lot more and I've recently cut down. Oh, and the victims don't know about it.

    Set a deadline, perform random audits and fine them to hell if the data are not PROPERLY anonymised. End of story.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So they anonymise but can un-anonymise

    and next time a pigopolist waves a lawyer-shaped cardboard cutout demanding the un-anonymised data they'll just hand it over like good little citizens?

  16. Kevin Kitts

    @ adnim

    "It really is that simple. If you need Googles superior, and I guess it is, search functionality, use Scroogle or search through a proxy server."

    And how can you trust Scroogle/proxies not to do the same thing, and sell the results back to Google? You can't, even if you get it in writing. Our government can flash the "National Security Dispose of All Rights" card and confiscate the data. The proxies can put in a clause in the fine print, saying "terms subject to change without notice". Scroogle could simply do whatever it wants and not tell you. And you wouldn't know the difference until it's far too late.

    Like anywhere else in real life, if you walk in the store, prepare to be on camera. If you don't like the cameras, don't shop in stores. Same thing with Google's web site (or any other web site, for that matter).

    "Rights"? What does that mean?

    If our government doesn't start governing again, we will lose whatever "rights" we have left.

    Again, mine's the coat with the Illuminati pyramid on the back of it, and "1984" stitched on the right front pocket. As George Carlin said, "enjoy your snooze".

    PS: The Illuminati pyramid is the pyramidial structure of corporations owning other corporations, up to the top where only a handful of people dictate what the news tells you, what you can buy and sell, and what "rights" you have. When I hear "global economy" out of our politicians, I know that our standard of living is about to become that of China, just so we can "compete" with slave-drivers. I can't enjoy my snooze anymore, Bush and his stupidity woke my ass up. And I'm pissed off about it.

  17. Whitefort


    9 months?

    Or, you could do your google search via, and avoid giving Google any data whatsoever.

  18. Steve
    Paris Hilton


    "If one is worried about Google, it's spying and data retention practices there is a solution: Don't use them."

    good luck avoiding the many sites that now use google urchin/google syndication.

    Of course, these can be blocked by that's less likely than users not typing google for searches, or accidentally having google search bar installed by a friendly app.

    Paris - knows all about googling.

  19. adnim


    Yes you are right I wholly concur, and with your entire sentiment. I was recently handed a few Noam Chomsky books I really must take time out to read them.

    Our government is governing, although it is governing the people not governing for the people. It's so obvious that Bush is a corporate puppet, just not quite so obvious with our own leaders, yet their arrogance begins to show.

    I wonder if anything can be done without violence, as I am not a violent man.

    Mines the one with the AK47 in the pocket that my conscience won't allow me to use.

  20. adnim


    I don't have to, google-analytics, googlesyndication, googleadservices infact Google anything is marked as untrusted in NoScript.

    You are correct regarding the average user even if they do not use Google, all Googles scripts are running in the background from the majority of websites.

    I am waiting for a law to be passed banning the use of blocking software, or websites detecting their presence and refusing to load. I have already discovered a few sites that fail to work without a valid referrer, however they haven't worked out how to detect a forged one yet ;-)

  21. Faculty

    Not so fast...

    This only applies to the average person who uses Google to conduct a search. If you have a gmail account and did not opt out of Web History the privacy policy for Web History allows Google to keep all of your personal web activity on their servers forever...Searches, Videos, Images everything.

    When you open a gmail account you are not given an option to opt out of their policy that allows them to store all of your emails on a back-up server forever.

    -- Google General Policy --

    -- Web History Policy ---

    -- GMAIL Policy ---

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