AOL CTO Resigns – Heads roll

21 08 2006

CTO Maureen Govern and two other AOL employees have left AOL for the data lapse that exposed the private search data of over 600,000 users. More info here.

It’s truly unfortunate that this happened, but if nothing else, the positive is that this casts the light back onto Internet privacy and the hit big companies can take if they aren’t earning the trust of their trusting users.

Great technology companies can use this data to better the overall experience, but it’s worthwhile to understand the implications – you are putting a lot of trust in the hands of search companies, software companies and more. I do not believe that anyone should be paranoid, but this shows that it’s not impossible to imagine your data (and effectively, your life) breached. I hope as the Internet continues to reach its full potential that companies large and small continue to understand the importance of this.

Vice Chairman Ted Leonisis and AOL’s General Counsel are overseeing a committee to review their data collection and retention policies – a good start from the very top, hopefully it’s the first of closer looks at AOL and elsewhere.

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2 responses

22 08 2006
Cornflake

Dismissing the employess directly related is one thing, but can the CTO be held responsible for actions she may have known nothing about?

I must say, though, some of these search queries are hilarious – “how to tell the wife about affair”

http://www.frogspy.com/searches/byquery/tell+the+wife+about+affair

22 08 2006
rodgerv

Of course, the CTO can be dismissed (although I’ve most heard resignation as the official designation) for something clearly under her jurisdiction. Naturally, you’d hope that at levels closer to the actual leak, the people gone at AOL are those directly responsible.

The dismissal may be symbolic, a stark contrast to the aggregious leak in the first place. Or it may be fully symptomatic of a bigger problem and lack of controls (both policy, but also procedure – how’s 600,000 user’s OLD queries that easily accessed?) in place at AOL. Either way, it’s justified – the former being less fair and the latter being fully fair.

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