The Upside Of The AOL Data Leak: Government Realizes Data Retention Is Bad

from the silver-linings dept

It really was just a few months ago that our federal government was desperately trying to convince everyone that ISPs should be forced to retain all sorts of data on usage, long past any reasonable period for business purposes. Despite the fact that data retention rules are usually ridiculously expensive (increasing the price for end users) while making the important data harder to find, the government pulled out the "terrorism" card as a reason it was needed. However, with the embarrassing leak of AOL user data, suddenly our politicians are up in arms... over the exact opposite thing. Yes, that's right, now there's talk that we should pass laws to ban the retention of data like this. It's not a complete flip flop, of course. It's something of a partisan issue. The bill in question was introduced months ago, with the hope of preventing data retention laws that weaken everyone's privacy. The AOL flap has simply given new life to the supporters of this bill. However, it will be interesting to see if the AOL leak and the publicity it's generated will actually get people to pay attention to some of the reasons why forced data retention is a very bad idea.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Mike, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 4:49pm

    the solution..

    is to not use AOL. If you have used AOL in the past, then this is your punishment. Problem solved

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 6:23pm

    Bet some politicians searches were public...

    Search Results for user G2theWb:
    how to dominate world
    new world order
    Dora explorer
    Locate Isreal and middle eats^h^h^h^h east

    Search Results for JoeCongressman1234
    Little boys playing
    bribes and fines
    under the table
    washington DC escort tranny

    "Congressman this is GW, we need to make a law forcing everyone to not save search datas from the internets."

    "Sure GW, the internets are not safe unless we are controlling every detail. Internets will be attacking if were not careful, we need to force them to destroy it."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Scott, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 7:30pm

    Re: Bet some politicians searches were public...

    HOLY SHIT!! That was probably the worst .... what the fuck was it anyway?!?!? You need some acting classes or something...and NO, I am not a GW Fan, you just suck.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Steve, Aug 11th, 2006 @ 11:32pm

    It's not the data, it's the credit reporting agenc

    Out law the credit reporting assholes, and identiy theft would drop 99.9%

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Data Protection Act, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 2:04am

    Perhaps what you need is something like the Data Protection Act we have in the UK. Revealing personally identifiable information about someone to the general public is a criminal offence. It doesn't apply to the police/secret service etc but this kind of public data release that clearly has phone numbers, postal addresses etc in it would have landed AOL in court in the UK. It is actually illegal in the EU to transfer personally idetifiable data to the US, even to the US government because you do not have any data protection type laws. That's why an EU court recently decided that the info airlines were giving to the US about their passengers was illegal.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 6:49am

    wow first time a aol fuck up has put a smile on my face

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 8:05am

    Yeah, we should focus on data retention of ISP's that release personal information yet do nothing about serious data loss.

    What really has been done to the VA for its data loss? What has been done to Wells Fargo? What, the credit card clearinghouse that lost millions of records paid fines of less than a dollar per consumer.

    Politicians and the media focus on AOL yet really do nothing about serious privacy loss. Sure, don't use AOL, but what about your bank, your credit cards, your
    insurance and health information.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 8:42am

    Re: It's not the data, it's the credit reporting a

    Can't help it if you have bad credit man. I actually like them. My credit score gets me better dealks. Go to http://www.privacyrights.org/fs/fs4-junk.htm for ideas on how to get your name off lists and reduce unsolicited snail mail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Chris, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 8:43am

    Welcome to Earth

    If you've haven't noticed by now the internet is not secure, and more than likely won't ever be. For the majority of the time you're online you're constantly being bombarded by junk mail, though you've never given your e-mail to anyone with malicious intent. The simple fact you use a @hotmail, @charter, @ it's just a matter of time before some random address generator gets a hit. Popups, spyware, adware, worms, viruses, trojans, packet sniffers, choose your poison oods are sooner or later you'll be the victim. However, the extent of which you'll be affected is usualy crap in your inbox, or your computer performance slows down (most people never notice though). So long as huge corporations hire droves of high school grads to offer tech support, who use their work computer like they do at home contaiminanting them beyond belief, you're at risk. Not to mention all the outsourced info to east (India etc..) who's security very well might be lacking as oversea endevors tend to favor the cheepest path possible. Point is companies like AOL, Comcast, Charter, whoever, who have massive storage banks managed by so many automated systems and thousands of indiviudals, will eventualy run into a security problem if someone's so determined to create one. They just don't allocate enough resources to manage things like this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    XCetron, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 10:27am

    True, but spam mails dont usually create too much trouble. Viruses on the other hand can cause some troubles but nothing a quick format couldnt solve. I backup all my data offlline and everytime the net computer gets infected or something I can just wipe it out and reinstall stuff, the process takes approximately 24 minutes.

    This is the information age, there are information everywhere, even the ones you dont want to go around. The safest place to store data is a database not connected to anything else.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Nocturne, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 11:08am

    HAHAHA sounds like some politicials use aol, i wonder how many porn sites dick cheney was enjoying with his pacemaker =3

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    ijakings, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 11:59am

    Well as we know...

    ...the internet is a series of tubes, and sometimes these tubes get so clogged up with User Data Retention that they break and anyone with a big enough bucket under this breakage could see what anyone is searching for, we need to stop this threat to the internets tubing now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Michael, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 8:32pm

    Re: the solution..

    It is really not the peoples fault it is a horrible service but it is given free to so many people that do not do the research on how bad the company treats people. Look everyone makes mistakes, even though AOL is a pretty big mistake, I don't think we should have to pay for it after we cancelled. And yes I unfortunately had an AOL account at one time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Dom, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 11:12pm

    Search the AOL logs :)

    Some guy has written a search script for the AOL logs, so if you want to see the weird stuff people are looking for on AOL, go here: http://czern.homeip.net/aolsearch/.

    I suggest searching for something like "affair":


    7037000 how to tell a wife her husband is having an affair with you 2006-04-03 1 http://www.findarticles.com

    7037000 how to tell a wife her husband is having an affair with you 2006-04-03 3 http://www.e-spy-software.com

    7037000 how to tell a wife her husband is having an affair with you 2006-04-03 4 http://www.cheatingspousepi.com

    7037000 how to tell a wife her husband is having an affair with you 2006-04-03 5 http://divorcesupport.about.com

    7037000 how to tell a wife her husband is having an affair with you 2006-04-03 9 http://www.faqfarm.com

    7037000 how to tell a wife her husband is having an affair with you 2006-04-03 11 http://www.sundaymirror.co.uk

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Aug 12th, 2006 @ 11:48pm

    Re: the solution..

    Having won a lawsuit against em when I was 16 for not being able to give me my unlimited internet like they sold me. I must say I have avidly hated this company for along time for many reasons. It's a large organization and will bounce back, but at least the politicians see that it's really not a joke. We're dealing with real life problems that they need to take a little more seriously than changing the e-mail page for the govt. officials from listing their e-mail addresses to making it a form you have to send each one. Of course copy and paste still work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Aug 13th, 2006 @ 12:03am

    Re: Re: the solution..

    Also here is a listing of all the Senators and Congressmen/women. CDC Budget Cuts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    terry, Aug 13th, 2006 @ 12:08am

    Re: the solution..

    up yours

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    AOL_User, Aug 13th, 2006 @ 10:42am

    Re: the solution..

    Preaching to the choir! I am stuck using it, and HATE IT! You lucky bast***s who use DSL are SOOOO FRIGGIN LUCKY.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Aug 14th, 2006 @ 12:34am

    Switch

    PeoplePC has the same amount of access numbers in every city using not just AOL's access numbers , but also their own. It's less expensive and comes without all the mal/spyware bundled into AOL.

    You're doing it to yourself and to anyone who has anything to say to me come say that shit to my face you lil anonomous punk piece of shit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Fox McCloud, Aug 15th, 2006 @ 9:46am

    Now you're smiling?

    In response to #6...

    AOL has made MANY "fuck ups" that made me smile a lot more than this. I'd have to say the most obvious one was then all the "cancel the account" calls went public on the net, not the least of which was Mr. Vincent Ferrarri (do a google or youtube search if you haven't heard the phone call or seen any of his interviews). It always seemes funny to me that Ferrarri - a cell phone salesman who actually has much the same job of trying to sell people more than they need - got aggrivated and adjitated with an AOL "customer card" rep. Then, there's the entire slew of documents that just magically got "leaked" from within AOL after his phone call. Things like, for example, their official internal "Customer Retention Manual" that basically tells them exactly how to get you to keep your AOL service (which apparently is as important as selling new service, but more difficult. Go figure.) There's also the emails from the VP for whatever-department-those-trolls-work-in which show that even he is really, really worried about the phone call. And all of that is from one small incident when one guy decided to grab a tape recorder before he called up the devil - I mean AOL - to cancel his account.

    I'm just saying that if this is the first AOL PR disaster you've seen that makes you smile, you need to read around a bit more (even dig through some older entries here on Techdirt, perhaps). I think when you're done reading, you'll be laughing your ass off, simply because it's amazing a company can mess up this much and still be in business.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Ed Fravoch, Sep 14th, 2006 @ 10:53am

    Now is the Time

    This gives the world the opportunity to stand up and say we will not use a search engine that stores data. Not google, certainly not yahoo etc. We need more search engines like IXquick that do not store searches. Legislation is also improtant, write your congressman, no joke.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Ed Fravoch, Sep 14th, 2006 @ 10:54am

    Now is the Time

    This gives the world the opportunity to stand up and say we will not use a search engine that stores data. Not google, certainly not yahoo etc. We need more search engines like IXquick that do not store searches. Legislation is also improtant, write your congressman, no joke.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Peter, Dec 7th, 2009 @ 2:15pm

    I think there is some confusion in these comments about what is at stake. This is not about Google saving searches. They do that to help create better search results and to calculate trends and even aim ads. This issue was about these ISPs stroing personal data, sensitive data and financial data. The issue is less about data protection and more about when (or whether) it is ok to dump old and irrelevant data.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Liz, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    internet investigations

    It is interesting that this happened. It's also interesting to see where google will be going in the future. We get numerous calls a day to do internet investigations. Please contact us if interested.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Liz, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 12:45pm

    internet investigations

    It is interesting that this happened. It's also interesting to see where google will be going in the future. We get numerous calls a day to do internet investigations. Please contact us if interested.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Liz, Jan 12th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    internet investigations

    It is interesting that this happened. It's also interesting to see where google will be going in the future. We get numerous calls a day to do internet investigations. Please contact us if interested.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Liz, Mar 10th, 2010 @ 10:49am

    Private Investigator New York

    Hire a Private Investigator in New York today (www.pvteyes.com)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Ben, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 12:55am

    internet investigations using a Spy Software Win Spy

    I would suggest using Win Spy Software from http://www.win-spy.com/spy%20software.htm it is a lot cheaper ($39.95), and has ton more features. Including remote install - live remote viewer to view what your kids are doing on the pc (live) and view your house via webcam live.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This