Monday, August 07, 2006

AOL: Another Obtuse Lapse

I don't know what the people at America Online are smoking, but maybe they should start selling whatever it is, because they may need to look for a new business model soon. These people released massive amounts of user search data to the public, tied to individual users!

Ok, so the user names are not used. Instead, they use randomized numbers, but you can track a user's searches and navigation by this number, and pretty easily find out who they are by analyzing their search terms. Ego searching is very common.

So imagine seeing that user "1297734" seached for his name, for example "Ted Samplename", then this same user later searches for "Seattle prostitutes". Well, suddenly we can start assuming that Mr. Ted Samplename, of Seattle, is looking for a little on-the-side action. Talk about invasion of privacy!

AOL has since removed the data, but the damaqge is done. It's being mirrored all over the place. I'm just glad I'm not an AOL user, and I feel bad for anyone who is.


Anonymous said...

That's why it is always a good idea to search for OTHER people once a day. Before I type "Hooker in Mountainview" I always first enter "Ed Caggiani" in Google.

Ed Caggiani said...

LOL! Roy, is that you? ;-)

Anonymous said...

I am not allowed to reveal my secret identity or you might start using my name before making questionable google searches. See you at the BBQ.