Why Might AOL’s Data Release Be A Big, Big Problem?

TechCrunch thinks there could be privacy breaches as people look up personal info which can then be correlated to their other searches.

    “Combine these ego searches with porn queries and you have a serious embarrassment. Combine them with “buy ecstasy” and you have evidence of a crime. Combine it with an address, social security number, etc., and you have an identity theft waiting to happen. The possibilities are endless.”

As of 10pm Sunday night, AOL took down both the data and pages that referred to it.

However, the data has already been downloaded numerous times and passed around. Peoples are racing to develop easily searchable databases.

They might come across the entry for User 17556639 who searched for: “how to kill your wife,” “wife killer,” “how to kill a wife” and “poop.”

Scatological murderer or niche-interest crime screenwriter? The possibilities are endless with the power of conjecture.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Tiger says:

    Wow, guess I need to find a diferent way to research killing someone.

  2. Ben says:

    I wonder if John Grisham ever researched murder. Or Stephen King.

    All I’m saying is that an internet search, by itself, may not mean much. Of course if the person has a corpse laying next to him while he’s googling “disposal techniques” that may be a different thing.

    Wonder what Mel Gibson’s searches look like?

  3. RumorsDaily says:

    The real problem with all this is that people often search for themselves. Combine narcicism with a desire to kill your wife and you’ve got all sorts of legal trouble.

  4. My friend is number one on ‘dead hooker’ searches because he posted some dead hooker jokes.


    It’s amazing how some people find you on searches.

  5. TedSez says:

    How to identify someone based on his (or her) search history:

    1. The first name he searches for is probably his own.

    2. The next few names are probably those of his friends or family (especially if some of the last names are the same as his).

    3. After that, look for three or four women’s names in a row. These are his ex-girlfriends.

    4. Look for any queries involving places or directions. This will provide a general idea of where he lives.

    5. Now that you have a good idea of exactly who this person is, you can browse for ideas as to his financial dealings, political and religious beliefs, sexual preferences and fantasies, and future hopes and dreams.

    6. Since you’ve been allowed to breach someone’s privacy in the worst way, develop a creeping sense of fear and despair — because if you’ve ever used AOL Search yourself, someone else is probably doing the exact same thing to you.

  6. RumorsDaily says:

    I wonder what sort of lawsuits AOL has opened themselves up for if someone is willing to publicly claim one of the ugly search histories?

  7. “The possibilities are endless with the power of conjecture.”

    This is a great quote. Like the Power of Cheese commercials.

  8. Morton Fox says:

    Imagine what would happen if Google screws up and leaks search query data. Be afraid.