Google Blogoscoped

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

NYT Locates One AOL Searcher

AOL said “there was no personally-identifiable data” linked to accounts found in their recently released search logs*. The New York Times proves them wrong... in a very visual way, by showing off the photo of one particular searcher (who agreed for this to be published). Thelma Arnold, the AOL user in question, says, “My goodness, it’s my whole personal life ... I had no idea somebody was looking over my shoulder.”

Here are some of Thelma’s searches (I’m publishing as she already approved the NYT coverage):

care packages
movies for dogs
blue book
best dog for older owner
rescue of older dogs
school supplies for the iraq children
pine straw delivery in gwinnett county
landscapers in lilburn ga.
pine straw in lilburn ga.
gwinnett county yellow pages
seffects of nicotine
effects of nicotine
big cuddly dog
atlanta humane society
shedless dogs
dog for handicapped people
safest place to live
new zealand
new zealand real estate
retirement in new ealand
retirement in austrailia
best retirement in the world
best retirement place in usa
weather for carthage new york
phone number
bi polar and heredity
movies on bipolar
dekalb animal shelter
champion windows
replacement windows
innovations decks
adventure for the older american
appalachian trail
panasonic vacuum cleaners parts
panasonic vacuum dealer in lilburn ga.
public birth records burgettstown pa.
flair vacuum
poodles mix
doxi poo
best season to visit italy
the monkey’s wives
juice plus
hand tremors
gwinnett county college for over 60 years
nicotine effects on the body
wrinkling of the skin
meadow pointe village
meadow pointe village harrisonburg
property tax in harrisburg va.

As Thelma explained, it can be misleading to believe all searches say something about her personality... ’cause she’d often research something for friends.

[Thanks Corsin Camichel.]

*In a later passage of the statement, they expanded this to “There was no personally identifiable data provided by AOL with those records, but search queries themselves can sometimes include such information.” They omitted to mention that all search queries for one user are grouped together so that once you expose a user through a single query, every query of that user is personally identifiable.


Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About


This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!