In response to growing privacy concerns from U.S. and European lawmakers, Google announced that it will cut the amount of time it stores users' IP addresses on its servers in half, reducing the retention period from 18 months to nine months.
After that period, the server logs will be anonymized so it becomes impossible to trace an IP address back to an individual. Google, which had previously cut its data-retention time in a nod to privacy concerns, has maintained that analyzing the server logs with full IP addresses collected over an extended period of time allows it to combat fraud, spam and other Internet threats.
"As the period prior to anonymization gets shorter, the added privacy benefits are less significant and the utility lost from the data grows," Google's chief privacy counsels wrote in a blog post. "So, it's difficult to find the perfect equilibrium between privacy on the one hand, and other factors, such as innovation and security, on the other."