Google has changed its cookie policy

Google has changed its cookie policy to ensure the information it gathers on users expires after two years rather than its current delete date of 2038.

The move follows the search giant's recent concession to European Union data watchdogs over the two-year period during which it retains personalised search data; which it has since reduced to 18 months.

Google is currently being investigated by the US Federal Trade Commission, and could also face a European Union investigation, over its $3.1bn acquisition of banner advertising serving company DoubleClick. The company's rivals, including Microsoft, complained the acquisition was anti-competitive and would give it excessive access to consumer and marketing data.

Its policy change - announced this week and set to be enacted over the next few weeks - means that cookies from its sites will be deleted from a person's computer after two years. However, when a user returns to the site the cookies will be updated.

Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel, said: "After listening to feedback from our users and from privacy advocates, we've concluded that it would be a good thing for privacy to significantly shorten the lifetime of our cookies."

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