AOL has released around 20 million queries by around 500, 000 users over the past three months. Initially, AOL clarified that the log might be useful for “personalization, query reformulation or other type of search research."
However, with the privacy violation outcry, the data that was posted on AOL research site has been taken off. AOL claimed that no personally identifiable information has been released. Usernames have been replaced with anonymous user ID numbers. But that does not make it very difficult to find out details of the user. Anyway, AOL finally admitted the release to researchers was "a screw up" and had breached the privacy of its users. But the dust has not set down over the issue. In fact, it raises new concerns about net privacy.