They know all about you

They know all about you
AOL Users Especially BEWARE:

Every time you use an internet search engine, your inquiry is stored in
a huge database. Would you like such personal information to become
public knowledge? Yet for thousands of AOL customers, that nightmare has
just become a reality. Andrew Brown reports on an incident that has
exposed how much we divulge to Google & co
Andrew Brown
Monday August 28, 2006

In March this year, a man with a passion for Portuguese football, living
in a city in Florida, was drinking heavily because his wife was having
an affair. He typed his troubles into the search window of his computer.
"My wife doesnt love animore," he told the machine. He searched for
"Stop your divorce" and "I want revenge to my wife" before turning to
self-examination with "alchool withdrawl", "alchool withdrawl sintoms"
(at 10 in the morning) and "disfunctional erection". On April 1 he was
looking for a local medium who could "predict my futur".

But what could a psychic guess about him compared with what the world
now knows? This story is one of hundreds, perhaps tens of thousands,
revealed this month when AOL published the details of 23m searches made
by 650,000 of its customers during a three-month period earlier in the
year. The searches were actually carried out by Google - from which AOL
buys in its search functions.

The gigantic database detailing these customers' search inquiries was
available on an AOL research site for just a few hours before the
company realised that substituting numbers for users' names did not
really protect their identities enough. The company apologised for its
mistake - and removed the database from the internet. The researcher who
published the material has been sacked, as has his manager, and last
week AOL's chief technology officer, Maureen Govern, resigned. But those
few hours online were enough for the raw data files to be copied all
over the internet, and there are now four or five sites where anyone can
search through them using specialised software.

What was published by AOL represents only a tiny fraction of the
accumulated knowledge warehoused within Google's records - but it has
given all of us, as users, a dramatic and unsettling glimpse of how
much, and in what intimate detail, the big search engines know about us.

More at:

No comments: