Search engines need to have a more “transparent” policy when it comes to information they obtain from consumers, an industry organisation has said.

According to Get Safe Online, consumers have a right to know whether companies such as Google and Yahoo! are looking at their emails and what they are doing online.

A greater degree of transparency and accountability will allow consumers to make more informed and more personal decisions as to whether they should change to a new search engine.

Tony Neate, Get Safe Online’s managing editor, said: “If you go with a provider that gives you free email, free internet access and free web space then that’s fine and as long as they tell you that they’re going to be looking at the emails you send and what you’re doing then you can make a personal choice.”

A recent EU report about retaining web data said that there is no reason a search engine should keep users’ personal information for longer than six months.
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