August 8, 2006 | By Derek Slater

AOL Leak Includes Personally Identifiable Information

AOL has rightly apologized for its massive disclosure of over 650,000 users' search data. But it has also seemed to downplay the disclosure by saying, "there was no personally identifiable data linked to these accounts," even as it concedes "search queries themselves can sometimes include such information."

And thus these records can all too easily be linked to a user's identity, as this New York Times article clearly demonstrates. Without a doubt, many AOL users could be identified like the woman in this story -- whether vanity searches for your name or MySpace profile, or searches related to your city and neighborhood, your search history may provide clues to your identity.

While AOL's apology is commendable, its users deserve more than that to help rectify the damage done and to improve privacy-protections in the future.


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

Celebrate the 4th by giving to EFF! We're fighting to stop mass surveillance in the US and worldwide. https://eff.org/EFF25

Jul 4 @ 5:36pm

A deep dive into XKEYSCORE, one of the NSA's creepiest spying tools: https://eff.org/r.c6hp

Jul 3 @ 3:12pm

Come to EFF HQ on July 8 for a book talk with author of "Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Tech" https://eff.org/r.i3fv

Jul 2 @ 4:57pm
JavaScript license information