You are what you search

If you’ve been around the Internet a while, you may remember a piece of advice that goes something like “Never post/email/IM/blog/make a web page/or in any way divulge information about yourself that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the New York Times.”

Add “search for” to that list of terms. reports that a researcher working for AOL created and released a database that aggregated the search histories of over 650,000 of its users. Lucky for these folks, the data was reported by an assigned ID number not related to any of their account information.

Unluckily for these folks, even though AOL has pulled the database, it has already been mirrored and is even now transiting the Internet to who knows where. Considering some of the search terms used, would anyone care to bet me a new gun that there will be law enforcement agencies all over the US filing subpoenas requesting the real identity and location of ID number such-and such?

I didn’t think you would.

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