"Google Adds a Safeguard on Privacy for Searchers"
Miguel Helft of the New York Times reports today that Google plans to implement a search log anonymization policy. A March 14 post on Google Blog makes a similar report. According to Google's Log Retention Policy FAQ, Google "will change some of the bits in the IP address in the logs as well as change the cookie information," though the company is "still developing the precise technical methods and approach to this." The anonymization policy will be retroactive and might go into effect by the end of the year.
The Log Retention Policy FAQ also notes that data retention laws might require Google to retain data beyond this 18-24 month period. The United States currently does not have a national communications data retention requirement, but a proposal for such a law is pending in Congress, as previously discussed here.