|AOL Exposes Search Queries To
A while back the
federal government ordered to hand over a big batch of search queries.
Among those who turned over the data without question was AOL.
Apparently, they've figured that, if
the government has such data, why shouldn't everyone else? Perhaps they
just figured that the government was likely to leak the data anyway. No
matter what the reasoning, they've decided to simply hand it out
themselves for "research" purposes to anyone who might want it.
SiliconBeat points us to someone who
noticed the release of search logs from 500,000 unlucky AOL users.
While the data had been made somewhat
anonymous by replacing usernames with numbers, in plenty of cases the
data is clear enough to work out who the user is. It seems that the
outrage over this has convinced AOL to pull down the data, but plenty of
copies are already out there.
It's really quite stunning, given the
debate just months ago about the importance of Google protecting this
data, that anyone at AOL would think it was a good idea to
basically release the same exact type of data into the public, exposing
the private searches of thousands.