AOL search record lawsuits begin

Marketplace Staff Sep 26, 2006


SCOTT JAGOW: AOL really goofed a few weeks ago when it mistakenly posted thousands of Internet search records online. Now, three of the people whose searches were revealed are suing the company. Nancy Marshall Genzer reports.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: AOL describes what happened as a “screw-up” and it’s apologized. But the cat’s out of the you’ve-got-mail bag.

Some 19 million search requests made by hundreds of thousands of subscribers were released by AOL. The three subscribers who filed the lawsuit say AOL violated their privacy.

University of Baltimore Law professor Bob Lande says, searches can involve a treasure trove of data, say when a doctor’s office requests your social security number.

BOB LANDE:“So you’re sending that social security number into cyber space. That number can be accessed by someone else and then used to access all kinds of information about you.”

The subscribers who sued AOL want class action status for their lawsuit, meaning it would cover all 650,000 subscribers whose search data was released.

Lande says that would get AOL’s attention.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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