Some of the first bits of dangerous backlash are being seen by AOL's shortsighted release of search data last week. Even though AOL, with a red face, pulled the data very soon after its release, that hasn't stopped many from mirroring it and pouring through the contents. Already, people's real names and addresses are being exposed, much to their dismay:
Ms. Arnold, who agreed to discuss her searches with a reporter, said she was shocked to hear that AOL had saved and published three months worth of them. My goodness, it's my whole personal life, she said. I had no idea somebody was looking over my shoulder.
While the details of any one particular persons searches are not something most people would care about, there are many who see this as a goldmine to begin harvesting information, whether it be for just curiosity or actual malicious intent. There is still no official word from AOL on what they plan to do about their mistake. Though they apologized to this lady in particular, that's not making amends to the thousands of customers who were affected. And the lady they apologized to, what's her response?:
Ms. Arnold says she loves online research, but the disclosure of her searches has left her disillusioned. In response, she plans to drop her AOL subscription. “We all have a right to privacy,” she said. “Nobody should have found this all out.”
Indeed. I wonder if AOL will see many cancellations because of this.