Okay, so first I should provide a quick summary of what transpired in the past week or so. Simply, AOL provided a large amount of supposidly private data in a very public manner. This information is largely search data used by users which is searchable in a manner that could ultimately provide information concerning exactly who used this data. In other words, if you use AOL, anyone can find what you were searching for. It can get private and embarassing very easily.
The fact that a company collects this data is nothing new. Nearly every search engine aside from Google provided this sort of information to the government not too long ago. But the fact that AOL makes this public is concerning, obviously. But this isn’t even what I’d like to point out. What that would be is that so many bloggers and websites are making this information further public. I won’t provide specific citations and links because that would be counter-productive to the point I’m trying to make. That point would be that this is spreading this once-private information like wildfire.
AOL, of course, eventually did remove this information from public view. But there was a specific point in this. Not making this information readily available to those wishing to commit identity theft. Or blood thirsty advertisers looking to make a quick buck. These websites that are trying to make a mockery of AOL are indeed making a mockery of themselves in their personal vendetta that at one point had electronic privacy in mind. While it is interesting to find someone looking for churches to visit and porn in the same session, this curiosity is hypocritical of the crusader for public privacy.
If privacy is to live on, the copies and mirrors of this search data must die. But unfortunately, that won’t happen. Curiosity will kill the cat. But substitute “curiosity” for bloggers and attention-hungry websites and “cat” for public privacy.