July 19, 2007

Google Snips Cookie Lifespan for Privacy

In a move that has surprised critics, Google has promised to cut down on the amount of private data it collects about web users, by reducing the lifetime of 'cookies' installed on the computers of Google users.

A post in the official Google blog says, "We are committed to an ongoing process to improve our privacy practices, and have recently taken a closer look at the question of cookie privacy. How long should a web site 'remember' cookie information in its logs after a user's visit? And when should a cookie expire on your computer? Cookie privacy is both a server and a client issue."

Cookies are essentially small files stored on a computer so that it can be recognized when a particular user revisits websites, enabling the site to remember the user's preferences for things like e-commerce and sites that require log-in. Google previously designed its cookies to expire in 2038 but now, according to the new policy, the cookies will expire after every two years.

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