Monday, August 21, 2006

AOL forces its CTO out, and fires two unnamed employees

The chief technology officer for America Online, Maureen Govern, resigned in light of AOL's release of search logs showing activity for 650,000 plus customers over a recent 90 day period.

AOL's press release says that two other AOL employees were fired. My guess is that the two fired employees were Abdur Chowdhury ( and Greg Pass ( of the AOL "Search and Navigation Group." They merely sought to publish an academic paper and contribute to the search log analysis community. I've e-mailed them; one mail bounced from the (former?) AOL account. My guess us they have better things to do than to answer press inquiries.

But they gave away too much data. Pass and Chowdhury should have understood that posting detailed logs of search sessions would reveal private information. Here's my coverage of this story for Information Today:

But now The New York Times and others have weighed in. AOL is hurting, and this news came at a very bad time.

It would be very bad indeed if this case leads to legislation that outlaws search log analysis, which, used properly, simply helps people find things.