Microsoft and call for search privacy protection

Microsoft announced Sunday evening a “commitment to call on the industry to develop global privacy principles for data collection, use and protection related to searching and online advertising.”  According to the press release:

“Microsoft and are proposing that leading search providers, online advertising companies and privacy advocates convene to engage in an active dialogue to discuss privacy considerations posed by the proliferation of online advertising and search. The goal of the dialogue is to determine ways that the industry can work cooperatively to define privacy principles that take these new considerations into account. The companies will provide an update on their progress in September.” recently announced the AskEraser, a privacy settings option that ensures that no search records will be retained by the company, a first of its kind in the industry. Google has announced privacy policy changes too, although it’s unclear how much the new policy really helps in the area of privacy.

Privacy policy – what private information search companies gather, how long they keep it, and what they do with it – is shaping up to be a major battleground.  Google has built an empire on mining information to help refine search, but Microsoft and, among others, may see this as an opportunity to force Google’s hand.