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AOL Subscribers Sue Over Release Of Search Data 97

An anonymous reader points out an AP story indicating that AOL hasn't seen the end of its own public embarrassment after airing some dirty laundry on behalf of its customers. Excerpted from the story: "Three AOL subscribers who suddenly found records of their Internet searches widely distributed online are suing the company under privacy laws and are seeking an end to its retention of search-related data ... The lawsuit is believed to be the first in the wake of AOL's intentional release of some 19 million search requests made over a three-month period by more than 650,000 subscribers. ... Filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., the lawsuit seeks class-action status. It does not specify the amount of damages being sought."
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AOL Subscribers Sue Over Release Of Search Data

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  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by T.Hobbes ( 101603 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @06:55PM (#16192801)
    AOL's releasing of the data was a very good thing, in that it raised people's awareness of the sheer quantity and potentially embarassing nature of search-engine records. With this data being made publically availible, people can now make informed judgements regarding the tradeoff between privacy and national security (or whatever justification is used for the retition of this data).

    This sort of lawsuit had to happen at some point; better soon rather than later, and, better that it come out of the incompetance of search-engine administrators rather than the abstract fears of the privacy-inclined.
  • Playing it out... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nilbog ( 732352 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @07:38PM (#16193275) Homepage Journal
    This will be really interesting to watch. I mean, AOL has dirt on everyone - I can imagine it will be hard to have a court case against them when AOL can come back and say "Oh here you are searching for child porn, illegal song downloads, etc." Unless they don't have anything to be ashamed of I can see it being a very difficult case for the plaintiffs.
  • by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @08:36PM (#16193825)
    3) making people aware of what their ISP / anyone with (or even without) a search warrant, can find out about them by just combining their non-anonymous search history.
  • by Hao Wu ( 652581 ) on Monday September 25, 2006 @09:48PM (#16194369) Homepage
    AOL, like most ISPs, has a privacy agreement, which states when and how your information may be distributed.

    A great lawyer (yeah yeah oxymoron) once described how you can't post a "contract" on the front of your vehicle saying that you are not responsible for any pedestrians you flatten.

    The point is: rules and policies are not the same as laws and legal rights. Companies try desperately to confuse those terms, and it often works.

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling