Tuesday, 8. August 2006 - 6:35 pm
Markus Frind – AOL, http://research.aol.com (Google cache), released a list of 20 million + searches by 500,000 AOL users. Contained in this list are social security numbers, credit cards and other personal information. There are some truly scary things in this database. There are hundreds of searches from people looking to kill themselves and even more scary are searches from users that seem to be looking to commit murder.
Check out the search history for user 17556639: how to kill your wife, wife killer, how to kill a wife, poop, dead people, pictures of dead people, killed people, dead pictures, murder photo, steak and cheese, photo of death, death, dead people photos, www.murderdpeople.com, decapatated photos, car crashes3, car crash photo.
This is the very data that google won a legal battle to keep from the government. I think because of the data contained in these search results the government is going to be taking a lot closer look at the search industry and things will definitely change. Techcrunch has more on it here.
Mark Brooks: This story made Reuters and the Financial Times earlier today. I was interviewed for an Associated Press piece on this back in January. I don't have a problem with the government seeing search data in the aggregate as long as it is completely anonymous and identifying searches are removed from the data (i.e. people searching for their own SS numbers). Markus thinks AOL, Yahoo and MSN are crazy for passing on the search data to the government because the government will surely use it to create new regulations. Markus told me via IM "Yahoo and AOL could fall under the definition of social networking as users have a profile and Yahoo even bills their search as 'social search.' What will lawmakers do? Will this industry be facing regulation?" Good point. Your comments please.