In classic AOL fashion, when receiving complaints about privacy concerns related to the release of search results for 600,000 customers, AOL responded by offering them a free month of AOL … a service that is already free. Interesting.
Here are the details from John Paczkowski at SiliconValley.com:
Filed Friday, the suit accuses AOL of violating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, of fraudulent and deceptive business practices, and beyond that of a peerless ineptitude in its handling of the matter. “As of the date of this complaint it is the understanding of plaintiffs and their counsel that AOL has not done anything to help the members whose personal sensitive and confidential records were released to the public by AOL,” the complaint alleges. “AOL members who sought assistance from AOL about the disclosure of the Member Search Data were not offered any assistance. AOL’s only response, if any, was to offer the victimized member a free month of AOL service, a service which AOL is now offering for free.” (Quote from SiliconValley.com)
As we move more and more of our lives online, we need to spend more time thinking about privacy and security concerns, especially when we start to centralize our searching, email, calendars, blogs, chat, etc. with a single provider (AOL, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc.) At the minimum, people need to better understand the risks of what can happen when our private information is made public.