Monday, August 07, 2006

Evil AOL

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch has an interesting post on AOL. I never really much liked AOL except in the early days when it was the only thing I knew. Now they have apparently released private user data which was tied to an ID number, instead of the user's AOL screenname. Which is, of course, still frightening given that you can probably figure out who someone is by some of their searches. As Arrington pointed out, we all Google ourselves these days.

AOL has since withdrawn the data, but it's too late, it's already out there.

Also in the blog post are some links to a YouTube video which contains an AOL user's conversation with a a particularly irritating individual from AOL's customer service and a newspaper article about a woman who tried for a very long time to cancel her deceased father's AOL account. AOL tries to deny that it is hard to cancel their service but considering that AOL was well-known for this problem at least 7 years ago, I'm not really inclined to believe them. Looks like some things never change.


Stacy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Stacy said...

Business Week's take on it:

Kat said...

Stacy: I see his point, but at the same time, I just can't accept that (perhaps it's just wishful thinking?). It seems to me that there is a difference - a postcard only passes through the hands of postal workers - it is illegal to tamper with another person's mail (isn't it?). So it really has a "legal" audience of very few people. However, the AOL data is out there - apparently legally - for everyone, since someone has already made a searchable database of it (see the TechCrunch post). Even more horrifying, one person has been identified from that data.

I guess I just can't accept that my searches should be public knowledge. It's too "big brother" for me. I sure hope that isn't the future! I'll have to start watching what I search for. Ack! :)