Be Careful What You Ask For

I am going to file this one under, “Yikes!”

AOL recently released three months worth of search data to researchers. To “protect the privacy” of the searchers, their names were replaced by identifying numbers. Of course it isn’t too difficult to narrow down the identity of an “anonymous” searcher by looking at what they searched for. The author of this article in the New York Times did exactly that.

AOL has since taken down the data and apologized, but the damage has already been done. It has been copied and spread all over the internet now.

The point is that our privacy is slipping away. There are records of everything you do and it doesn’t take much for these records to get out. Be careful. Be outraged.

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