Google Inc. said it will soon start issuing user cookies that automatically expire after two years for users who don’t return to the search site.
However, the cookies of users who continue to click on Google for search during this time period will automatically renew, wrote Peter Fleischer, Google’s privacy counsel in the official Google blog Monday.
Fleischer said Google made the decision after hearing from users and privacy advocates.
But at least one privacy advocate said the search site could do more.
“Google’s paying attention to the issue of cookie expiration, but as a practical matter I think this change will have little impact on online privacy,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Users still know too little about how Google collects information, what information is collected and what it’s used for. And of course, [for] anyone who returns to the Google site within two years — the cookie will be renewed. I think two days rather than two years is probably a better period for a search cookie.”
In his blog, Fleischer said Google was committed to improving its privacy practices and had recently started taking a closer look at cookie privacy because it is a problem for both servers and clients.
Last month, the company announced that it was going to make the data it stores about end users anonymous in its server logs after 18 months.
“Together, these steps — logs anonymization and cookie lifetime reduction — are part of our ongoing plan to continue innovating in the area of privacy to protect our users,” Fleischer said.