Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Face Is Exposed for AOL Searcher No. 4417749

The New York Times writes about Thelma Arnold, a 62-year-old Georgia widow who was identified, despite a random anonymizing number, within AOL’s accidentally released search history ....

Buried in a list of 20 million Web search queries collected by AOL and recently released on the Internet is user No. 4417749. The number was assigned by the company to protect the searcher’s anonymity, but it was not much of a shield.

Erik S. Lesser for The New York Times

Thelma Arnold’s identity was betrayed by AOL records of her Web searches, like ones for her dog, Dudley, who clearly has a problem.


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