On Wednesday Yahoo announced a new global data retention policy. Yahoo will limit its data storage period to 90 days, which is a sizable decrease from their previous 13 month policy. Yahoo is expanding this policy to apply not only to search-log data but also page views, page clicks, ad views, and ad clicks.

The European Union has expressed concerns on multiple occasions over the use of data collected by search engines, and the potential for this data to be used illegally. Yahoo has listened to this criticism and they are taking action. “In our world of customized online services, responsible use of data is critical to establishing and maintaining user trust,” said Anne Toth, Yahoo’s vice president of policy. “We know that our users expect relevant and compelling content and advertising when they visit Yahoo, but they also want assurances that we are focused on protecting their privacy.”

According to their recent press release, Yahoo’s overall goal is to ensure that they retain data only long enough to serve its business and user-experience needs while maintaining the ability to fight fraud, secure systems, and meet legal obligations. “We’re proud this new policy sets a new benchmark for the industry,” Anne Toth said.

According to Clickz, “Google shorted its own rention period from 18 months to nine in September this year. Microsoft and Ask.com both currently store data by default for 18 months, although Ask now allows users to remove this information within hours if the choose to.” And now, we’ll have to see how these search engines react to Yahoo’s announcement, and see if they all try to catch up.