Search engines can do more to only hold user data for short periods of time while still operating at normal levels, an expert has claimed.

Yahoo! recently announced that it was cutting its user data retention period from 13 months to three and this could also be achieved by rivals such as Google and Microsoft, according to comments made by Oxford Internet Institute senior research fellow Ian Brown.

It is "possible" to use systems that serve up tailored content and ads using data that has been held for a short while without harming the normal course of operations, he asserted.

Such programs could be a positive move for the internet marketing sector in general.

"There aren’t many countries that have such forthright privacy regulations as this, so hopefully it will encourage other regulators to look at this as well," Mr Brown said.

Yahoo!’s new data policy applies to both ads and pages and refers to data collected whenever a user clicks on or views an ad or page.

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