Internet search engines are racing to update their data-retention policies amid concerns that they are holding consumer data for too long.

Microsoft is expected to announce this week that it will delete all data relating to internet protocol addresses and online search information after an 18-month period, according to CNet news.

The website also states that Microsoft and Ask will propose a joint industry effort to create a set of voluntary standards to protect customers against the use of their details for online marketing and pay-per-click advertising.

Microsoft is also expected to confirm that it will give consumers the choice to opt-out of behaviourally-targeted advertising.

Brendon Lynch, director of privacy strategy at Microsoft, told CNet: "We believe privacy is a very important aspect for our business going forward."

It was recently reported that Google is to face US congress over the proposed acquisition of online advertising supplier DoubleClick.

The news came following a report earlier this month by the Associated Press that said European consumer group BUEC had called for an investigation into the matter, alleging that the deal was an infringement of European privacy rights and limited consumer choices.

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