AOL has commented on the privacy policies for its search engine in response to a survey.

Time Warner’s AOL internet unit spokesperson Amy Call told CNET News.com that the company retains search-related data, such as user identities, IP addresses and cookie IDS, for 13 months.

Personally identifiable web search histories are retained by AOL for up to 30 days before the identifying information is obscured using a hashing technique.

The comments after the company apologised a year ago for accidentally exposing the web searches made by some of its users.

Online behavioural advert targeting that reveals advertisements to users based on their behaviour across multiple queries is used by the company, Ms calls said, but can be cancelled by the consumer.

Ms Call denied that AOL obtains personal information, such as e-mail addresses and birth dates, when users register for targeted adverts on their search engines.

"We do use information provided by the user for localisation purposes to return much more relevant search results for the specified location, such as when a user enters a preferred location through the AOL My Locations feature," she added.

Meanwhile, Yahoo and Microsoft are scheduled to appear in a congressional hearing this autumn in order to discuss user privacy policies.

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