Remember back in January when Google got all that praise for resisting the federal government's effort to collect a big batch of search queries for a separate case? Google got all sorts of praise for supposedly protecting the privacy of its users, even as many other companies turned over the data. Among those who turned over the data without question was AOL. Apparently, they've figured that, if the government has such data, why shouldn't everyone else? Perhaps they just figured that the government was likely to leak the data anyway. No matter what the reasoning, they've decided to simply hand it out themselves for "research" purposes to anyone who might want it. SiliconBeat points us to someone who noticed the release of search logs from 500,000 unlucky AOL users. While the data had been made somewhat anonymous by replacing usernames with numbers, in plenty of cases the data is clear enough to work out who the user is. It seems that the outrage over this has convinced AOL to pull down the data, but plenty of copies are already out there. It's really quite stunning, given the debate just months ago about the importance of Google protecting this data, that anyone at AOL would think it was a good idea to basically release the same exact type of data into the public, exposing the private searches of thousands.
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