AOL released search queries

August 8, 2006

This story is doing the rounds at the moment, AOL has accidentally released 500,00 or so users search queries over the period of a couple of months. The data does not contain any personal identification associated with it, although it is grouped by user.

What this means is that if you are an AOL user (I’m assuming and hoping the majority of my readers are not), and you have searched your own name this will be included with the results. So sure, releasing what should be anonymous data is not a breach of privacy, but when you see a series of search strings as well as a full name in the list it can be assumed the search queries were made from that user.

Of course this is not necessarily the case,and you should never assume, but it does highlight the incompetence of AOL in this case.

I tried a download that was active but canceled after 20mins or so as its something I just wouldn’t use, I’m much more interested in reading the results of someone that has a ability to do a thorough analysis and report of the raw data.

AOL Releases Search Logs from 500,000 Users

AOL Releases Search Logs from 500,000 Users – Dig Submission

AOL apologizes for release of user search data


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