Feeds

AOL sued over search engine data release

Privacy breach suit launched

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A trio of AOL subscribers are suing the media giant over the public release of search engine queries.

The Californian lawsuit (PDF), which seeks class action status, is the first to cry foul over AOL's release of some 19m search queries by around 650,000 AOL subscribers over a three month period, AP reports.

The data was anonymised, but the parties to the lawsuit contend that enough personal information was contained in the data to identify at least some people who submitted search queries. Both the New York Times and Washington Post were able to link search queries to named individuals.

AOL has apologised for the incident and pulled the data from its own sites. But the damage to privacy has already been done as the information was widely reposted online before AOL pulled the plug.

The lawsuit cites AOL for violating California's Electronic Communications Privacy Act (among other statutes) and accuses the internet giant of "fraudulent and deceptive business practices". AOL ought to provide unspecified compensation for every person whose search data was exposed, the suit demands.

AOL declined to comment on the lawsuit which is only one aspect of the mess it's landed itself in by its publication of search engine data, an incident it blames on a researcher who'd failed to clear his project with bosses.

The researcher and another AOL worker were dismissed over the incident, which prompted the resignation of AOL's chief technology officer. In addition to widespread criticism from privacy advocates and lawmakers, AOL has to answer a Federal Trade Commission complaint over the incident. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.