Sunday, August 06, 2006

AOL Releases Search History for 650k Users

Just when you thought AOL was making some smart moves by no longer charging broadband users to access AOL services, a blunder of biblical proportions has come out of the AOL camp.

For some reason, AOL thought it would be a good idea to release data on 20 million search queries over the past 3 months from 650k users. While they contend this is "annonomys" data, there are obvious fears that people can connect an actual user to this data. One user commented:

12:09 by lando?: Hmm, i find it fascinating that user 545605's searches are "shore hills park mays landing nj", "frank william sindoni md", "ceramic ashtrays", "transfer money to china", and "capital gains on sale of house". I wonder how Mr. Frank William in Sindoni, Maryland will feel about being included in your publicized data.

The research along with user comments and the actual data file can be found here:

Every search users assumes their personal information will never be shared with anyone - this is a serious breach of privacy and it is things like this that give our industry a black eye. The file has already been downloaded by 1k users and there is no telling how dangerous this can be in the wrong hands.

Trackback: TechCrunch

No comments: