Microsoft has announced that Bing users' data will be deleted at 6 months, rather than the previous 18 months. The move, said to be as part of Microsoft's "ongoing evaluation of (its) Internet search privacy practices" is described as a "new and significant step" but is credited to pressure from the EU's Article 29 Working Party.

"Under our current policy", explains Microsoft in a blog post, "as soon as Microsoft receives a Bing search query we take steps to de-identify the data by separating it from account information that could identify the person who performed the search".  "Then", it continues, "at 18 months, we take the additional step of deleting the IP address, the de-identified cookie ID and any other cross-session IDs associated with the query".

The new policy is not coming into effect immediately, Microsoft says it will implement it over the next 12 to 18 months. As a quick glance comparison Google anonymises IP addresses after nine months, down from 18, while Yahoo does it in 90 days.