Tag Archives: AOL

I Love Alaska: Amazing Film Inspired by AOL Search Data Release

Some filmmakers have produced an amazing series of episodes based on one person’s searches discovered in the AOL search data release debacle. Here’s the trailer: And the description from the website where you can view them all: August 4, 2006, the personal search queries of 650,000 AOL (America Online) users accidentally ended up on the […]

On the "Anonymity" of the Facebook Dataset (Updated)

(Updated below with responses to comments by Jason Kaufman, one of the lead researchers on this project) (Another update: I’m pretty sure the “anonymous, Northeastern university” from where this dataset was derived is Harvard College. Details here) A group of researchers have released a dataset of Facebook profile information from a group of college students […]

Comparing Search Engine Privacy Policy Visibility

Prompted by Google’s resistance to cluttering its homepage with a link to its privacy policy, I decided to take a quick tour of the major search engines to compare the relative visibility of their privacy policies. AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have visible privacy policies on both their homepages and search results page (which is especially […]

Are Anonymous Data-sets Possible?

A recent column by Christopher Soghoian on CNet predicts a decline in companies sharing “anonymized” user data with the academic research community. Along with last year’s AOL data release debacle, Soghoian points to a more recent case where researchers were able to de-anonymize a data set released by Netflix, comprising of 100 million movie ratings […]

AOL Announces "Do-Not-Track" List

Leading into this week’s FTC town hall meeting addressing the growing concerns about Internet and search companies developing the means to track and profile users, AOL has announced plans to enable users to sign up for “do-not-track” lists similar to the popular “do-not-call” lists removing phone numbers from telemarketer databases. Users will be able to […]

Your Clickstream Data: 40 cents; Losing Your Privacy: Priceless

Adam Fields points to this disturbing revelation that ISPs are apparently selling their customer’s clickstream data. The guilty ISPs apparently took the same “anonymization” seminar as AOL, merely replacing user names with User 1, User 2, etc. And what kind of price are they charging for such a violation of user’s privacy? About 40 cents […]

WSJ Search History/Privacy Debate

The Wall Street Journal has published a debate (well, an e-mail exchange) between Kevin Bankston, a privacy lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Markham Erickson, a lobbyist for Internet firms including Google and Yahoo, on the topic of the privacy of web search histories. Here’s a choice excerpt where Bankston takes Erickson to task […]

EFF: How To Keep Your Search History Private

The Electronic Frontier Foundation provides these tips to help keep your search history anonymous: How can you help prevent damaging privacy invasions like AOL’s data leak? Along with spreading the word about this debacle, you can take steps to protect yourself online. Beneath the fold, we’ve listed some tips and tools that will help keep […]

Preventing Another Search Data Debacle

From the EFF: AOL’s data leak is a disaster, but there may be some silver lining. By putting the spotlight on the dangers of Internet companies storing massive amounts of private information, the data leak could spur better business practices and Congressional action to protect privacy. While AOL rightly apologized and began investigation into its […]