EU targets online privacy fears

European privacy regulators are set to impose tighter restrictions on the way search engines such as those of Yahoo and Microsoft keep customer data.

Peter Schaar, Germany's federal data protection commissioner and chairman of the Article 29 working party that advises the European Union on privacy policy, told the Financial Times that the search engines were keeping data too long.

Regulators are concerned about Google's practice of keeping information on individuals' searches and "cookies" - identifier programs on computers - saying the data could be used to identify individuals or create profiles of their private preferences.

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