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Three Users File Suit Against AOL Over Search Data

We knew this was coming: three AOL subscribers who found their search records published on the Internet along with 650,000 others have banded together to sue Time Warner, seeking damages for privacy violation--and an end to the Web company's retention of search data. This is the first lawsuit in the wake of AOL's intentional release of some 19 million search queries. The plaintiffs, two unnamed Californians and Kasadore Ramkissoon of Staten Island, New York, claim that the release of sensitive search data makes them personally identifiable to others and constitutes a violation of their privacy. Filed Friday in District Court in Oakland, Calif., the suit seeks class-action status. The amount of damages being sought was not disclosed. AOL has already apologized several times for the massive blunder, citing the poor judgment of a researcher who failed to receive the proper clearance to release the data to other researchers. That researcher was promptly fired, along with another employee. AOL's CTO has resigned, and the company says it's now poised to hire its first chief privacy officer. As much as AOL wishes this thing would go away, apologies and forward-step-taking won't be enough to placate 650,000 users who trusted AOL. As John Dominguez, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said: "People paid AOL with the belief that their privacy was going to be protected... That's not what happened." Dominguez said AOL should shut down or at least block access to those records from its own search engine. He added that the company should stop collecting such records and destroy any that it already has




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