Saturday, September 30, 2006

AOL Privacy Lawsuits Brewing

As expected, AOL members are suing AOL over the publication of their search queries back in August . Currently, it's three members, but I smell a class action lawsuit brewing. Personally, I can not stress the importance of this story enough. This may be one of the most egregious privacy violations of recent times. The prosecution claims AOL instituted false advertising, and several other violations, and is seeking monetary releif.

In addition, the prosecution is seeking to have AOL change their policy on data retention and disclosure. This is interesting and much more challenging than simple remuneration. They want AOL to do two things:

1) Destroy all of its records on current users, and
2) To neither store, nor maintain, records on future search records.

If such a request were to be upheld, it would significantly affect the future of web personalization, Web 2.0., and the business plans of many companies - including Google.


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