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All Your Searches Are Belong to Us

Some of you might have heard that AOL published the search histories of 65,000 of its users. [AOL has since apologized (profusely) and claimed it was a mistake]. Regardless, AOL cannot unring the bell, and the data has been widely propagated on the web. News.com analyzed a swath of data and came up with some interesting things about certain AOL users (Users are not personally identified, but are instead denoted by a unique ID). Some are amusing, while others are downright disturbing.

What I find interesting here (besides insight into things other people search for on the internet), is that last February, the government wanted the major search engines (AOL, Yahoo!, MSN, and Google) to turn over a week’s worth of search terms. Every search engine but Google complied. Eventually, a judge allowed the Justice Department limited access to Google’s data (but not user’s queries). But, if the AOL data is any indication, imagine the data the government now has at its disposal, thanks to the other three search engines.

Makes you think twice the next time your cursor is blinking on that search box.

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Categories: News of Note
  1. ty
    August 12, 2006 at 11:24 am

    A site where you can search this data is here:

    http://www.datablunder.com/logitems/query/

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