Yahoo released a new global data retention policy Wednesday that they hope will set an industry-leading approach to privacy. The company's various services and products will anonymize user log data within 90 days with limited exceptions for fraud, security and legal obligations. The policy will extend beyond search data to apply to page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks. This development shaves Yahoo's data retention length from thirteen months to only three. As for their hope that this will establish an industry trend, they already have been strategizing to set themselves apart from Google , who truncated their own policy of eighteen months to nine in September.

The process leading up to this announcement involved a review of data needs by heads of business and engineering units at Yahoo in order to determine the minimum length of time needed for business ends and user experience. “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 and Head of Privacy. Yahoo wants to achieve a balance of relevant content and advertising with the respect of their five hundred million users' privacy, while maintaining the ability to fight fraud and secure systems and other data-reliant legal issues.

The strategy appears to be successful: this week, the Ponemon Institute and TRUSTe released their fifth annual Most Trusted Companies for Privacy survey . Yahoo broke into the top twenty for the first time, ranked at fourteen. The top three this year are: first, American Express (ranked first last year), second, eBay (up six places from last year), and third IBM (also same ranking as 2007). The study asks adult-aged US consumers which companies they consider most trustworthy and best at safeguarding personal information.