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AOL apologises over search data 'screw-up'

So sorry

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AOL regrets publishing the search logs of 658,000 US users on a research website. The data was anonymised and covered only around 20m search queries of users of its client software. But it set off an internet firestorm of criticism.

So AOL has done the PR-savvy thing and 'fessed up to making an error of judgement in releasing the logs. The data was pulled last weekend, although not before various mirror sites got their mitts on it.

"This was a screw-up, and we're angry and upset about it," AOL spokesman Andrew Weinstein said, AP reports. "It was an innocent enough attempt to reach out to the academic community with new research tools, but it was obviously not appropriately vetted, and if it had been, it would have been stopped in an instant."

More background can be found in our analysis here. ®

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