AOL's Publication Yields Privacy Scandal

Aug 10, 2006 | 1,067 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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AOL's claims that the identity of the searchers has been withhold and thus cause no violation has fallen to pieces. User No. 4417749, the number as assigned by the AOL  to protect the searcher’s anonymity, has been exposed. New York Times figured out who she was and interviewed her about her searching habits for the story. Thelma Arnold, a 62-year-old widow who lives in Lilburn.  She  "…frequently researches her friends’ medical ailments and loves her three dogs. “Those are my searches,” she said, after a reporter read part of the list to her."

Although AOL removed the search data from its site  and apologized for its release, records of searches conducted by Ms. Arnold and 657,000 other Americans, continue to circulate online.

"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.”

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Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
4.thumbnail AOLs Publication Yields Privacy Scandal
4.thumbnail AOLs Publication Yields Privacy Scandal