BRUSSELS: European Union regulators are set to increase pressure on internet search engines to further reduce the period of time they store users' data.

Privacy watchdogs are expected to issue guidelines next week, following a long investigation which last year wrung concessions from Google.

The search giant was hoping its shortening of data storage time from 24 to 18 months would be enough to head off legislation. Rivals Microsoft and Yahoo have made similar pledges.

But Peter Schaar, Germany's federal data protection commissioner and chairman of the Article 29 working party that advises the EU on privacy policy is not satisfied.

"For me personally it still seems rather long, and I could imagine I am not alone. This process is not at an end. We have to continue discussions with the providers."  

The search engines claim they must keep the data for reasons of internal security and to play their part in the war on terror.

Schaar, however, is sceptical: "I cannot imagine that it is necessary to store data such as IP addresses for security reasons. What is the security threat? Security purposes don't justify the long-term storage of this data."

  • Meantime, Microsoft is set to take its $44 billion (€30bn; £22.5bn) offer for Yahoo direct to shareholders. As expected, the online search giant's board on Monday unanimously rejected the bid.

    In an added twist to the increasingly bad tempered dealings between the two parties, speculation was rife that Yahoo might snap up AOL as an alternative scenario for its frustrated shareholders.
  • Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff