Search Engines and Data Retention: Implications for Privacy and Antitrust

23 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2017 Last revised: 6 Oct 2017

See all articles by Lesley Chiou

Lesley Chiou

Occidental College - Department of Economics

Catherine E. Tucker

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Management Science (MS)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2017

Abstract

This paper investigates whether larger quantities of historical data affect a firm's ability to maintain market share in Internet search. We study whether the length of time that search engines retained their server logs affected the apparent accuracy of subsequent searches. Our analysis exploits changes in these policies prompted by the actions of policymakers. We find little empirical evidence that reducing the length of storage of past search engine searches affected the accuracy of search. Our results suggest that the possession of historical data confers less of an advantage in market share than is sometimes supposed. Our results also suggest that limits on data retention may impose fewer costs in instances where overly long data retention leads to privacy concerns such as an individual's ``right to be forgotten."

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Suggested Citation

Chiou, Lesley and Tucker, Catherine E., Search Engines and Data Retention: Implications for Privacy and Antitrust (September 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w23815. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3038625

Lesley Chiou (Contact Author)

Occidental College - Department of Economics ( email )

1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.faculty.oxy.edu/lchiou

Catherine E. Tucker

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Management Science (MS) ( email )

100 Main St
E62-536
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cetucker.scripts.mit.edu

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