Yesterday the Bing team announced new features in Bing that offer a more personalized search for customers by using location data as well as search history, on the official Bing blog:
For years people have talked about personalized search as the next evolution of our amazing technology. Over the years, the biggest obstacle facing search engineers is the simple fact that human behavior is not predictable…In that case a more personal search would benefit you; having more detailed information about the person doing the search can make results more effective. We think one of the challenges with delivering results which are truly individualized is that, to date, personalized search “can’t see the forest for the trees”. In other words everyone is collecting everything and trying to figure out the foibles of human behavior from a mass of digital bits. To an extent, we’ve all been looking at the wrong inputs which in turn haven’t given us the output we want.
Even as we continue to develop more relevant search through smart personalization, we are very focused on maintaining an industry-leading privacy stance. For more information, see here.
The blog post links to the new Bing Privacy Supplement:
Bing Privacy Supplement
(last updated January 2011)
The Information We Collect
When you conduct a search, Microsoft will collect the search terms you provide, along with your IP address, the unique identifiers contained in the cookies, the time and date of your search, and your browser configuration. We will attempt to derive your approximate location based on your IP address, and will use that information to display search results tailored to your geographic location. You can change your default location by clicking on the “Options” link on the search page. Your location and other search settings are stored in a cookie on your machine. If you are using a mobile device and have allowed Bing to use your current location, we will also collect your approximate latitude and longitude.
Use of Search Information
We use this information to provide you with relevant search results. We also use the information we collect to maintain and improve the quality, security and integrity of our services. For example we may use this information for research purposes and to improve the relevancy of Search results. This information is also necessary in order to detect and protect against security threats such as botnet attacks, click fraud, worms, and other threats.
Finally, as described in the Display of Advertising section of the Microsoft Online Privacy Statement, we may use search query data for the purpose of personalizing the ads we display to you as you use our services or those of our advertising partners. The search terms you enter in Search are categorized and certain user segments are inferred based on those terms. For example, if you search on terms associated with sports, we may associate a “sports segment” with the unique identifier contained in your cookie, and you will then be more likely to see ads related to sports.
When you use Search we may place a cookie on your machine which contains a unique identifier known as the Search ID. If you have previously signed into a Microsoft site or service using a Windows Live ID, we may also read one or more additional unique identifiers contained in other Microsoft cookies when you conduct a search. You can use your browser settings to remove or block cookies on your computer.
Storage and Retention of Search Information
We store our Search service search terms (and the cookie IDs associated with search terms) separately from any account information that directly identifies the user, such as name, e-mail address, or phone numbers. Further, we have built-in technological and procedural safeguards designed to prevent the unauthorized correlation of this data. We take additional steps to protect the privacy of stored search information by removing the entirety of the IP address, cookies and other cross session identifiers, after 18 months.
Sharing of Search Information
We may share some search query data with selected third parties for research purposes. Before we do so, we remove all unique identifiers such as IP addresses and cookie IDs from the data. We also run the data through a process designed to remove identifiable information that users may have included in the search terms themselves (such as social security numbers or credit card numbers). Additionally, we require these third parties to keep the data secure and to not use the data for any other purposes.