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Yahoo! Says They'll Be Keeping Tabs on You for 18 Months

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By Kevin Mathews/Special to LAist

They’re watching you! Two years after Yahoo! pledged to protect its users privacy, the company is now backpedaling. Rather than dumping search records after just 90 days, Yahoo! will keep tabs on your browser’s tabs for six times as long, according to the Daily News.

If you think your Internet searches are anonymous, think again. Most search engines track activity by IP number in order to “customize” their site’s experience for each user. Yahoo!, once lauded by consumers for minimizing its intrusive practices, is now joining Google in maintaining Internet records for 18 months.

Yahoo! argues that the switch is essential to stay competitive with other search engines. The company hopes to increase profits by including targeted advertisements. Moreover, Yahoo insists that the information it collects is valuable to the users, allowing Yahoo to personalize the site for them based on their previous habits.

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Nevertheless, the news is certainly a setback for Internet surfers. Watchdog groups contend that accumulating this data leaves people vulnerable to identity theft and even potential government surveillance. While lawmakers have begun to propose legislation to moderate how companies use this information, in the meantime, web surfers should be aware that Yahoo! is keeping track of each time you use its services to shop online (bid impulsively on eBay), catch up with the news (read celebrity gossip), and conduct research (watch
porn).