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Technology: AOL Proudly Releases Massive Amounts of Private Data
Monday, August 07 @ 07:07:09 CDT by (764 reads)
Warningsjkc054 writes "
Update: Sometime around 7 pm PST on Sunday, the AOL site referred to below was taken down. The direct link to the data is still live.

AOL must have missed the uproar over the DOJ’s demand for “anonymized” search data last year that caused all sorts of pain for Microsoft and Google. That’s the only way to explain their release of data that includes 20 million web queries from 650,000 AOL users.

The data includes all searches from those users for a three month period this year, as well as whether they clicked on a result, what that result was and where it appeared on the result page. It’s a 439 MB compressed download, expanded to just over 2 gigs. The data is available here (this link is directly to the file) and the output is in ten text files, tab delineated.

The utter stupidity of this is staggering. AOL has released very private data about its users without their permission. While the AOL username has been changed to a random ID number, the abilitiy to analyze all searches by a single user will often lead people to easily determine who the user is, and what they are up to. The data includes personal names, addresses, social security numbers and everything else someone might type into a search box.

The most serious problem is the fact that many people often search on their own name, or those of their friends and family, to see what information is available about them on the net. Combine these ego searches with porn queries and you have a serious embarrassment. Combine them with “buy ecstasy” and you have evidence of a crime. Combine it with an address, social security number, etc., and you have an identity theft waiting to happen. The possibilities are endless.

Marketers are going nuts over the possibilities, users are calling for a boycott of AOL, and others are just enraged:

User 491577 searches for “florida cna pca lakeland tampa”, “emt school training florida”, “low calorie meals”, “infant seat”, and “fisher price roller blades”. Among user 39509’s hundreds of searches are: “ford 352″, “oklahoma disciplined pastors”, “oklahoma disciplined doctors”, “home loans”, and some other personally identifying and illegal stuff I’m going to leave out of here. Among user 545605’s searches are “shore hills park mays landing nj”, “frank william sindoni md”, “ceramic ashtrays”, “transfer money to china”, and “capital gains on sale of house”. Compared to some of the data, these examples are on the safe side. I’m leaving out the worst of it - searches for names of specific people, addresses, telephone numbers, illegal drugs, and more. There is no question that law enforcement, employers, or friends could figure out who some of these people are.

I am assuming that AOL will take this page and the data down soon, but as of the time of this post it has been downloaded 809 times already. People I’ve spoken with are already building a web interface to the data. If you are an AOL customer, I feel sorry for you.

Note that Microsoft has proposed releasing similar data to researchers, although with an important difference - the data is not associated with a user. Excite released data very similar to what AOL has done here, with user associations, in 1999.



(comments? | Score: 5)

Technology: 2005, A Scary Year For Genetically Engineered Crops
Tuesday, March 07 @ 05:00:00 CST by (764 reads)
WarningsDebbie writes "


By Jeffrey Smith

Genetically modified(GM) crops were introduced 10 years ago, but 2005 saw plenty of evidence that the technology was introduced long before the science was ready. Here are some of last year’s highlights, so to speak.

(Read More... | 18103 bytes more | 2 comments | Score: 4.5)

Technology: Technology does NOT save time...
Thursday, February 23 @ 16:21:51 CST by (787 reads)
Agrarian Interest
By Ellen Wulfhorst Thu Feb 23, 9:58 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Most U.S. workers say they feel rushed on the job, but they are getting less accomplished than a decade ago, according to newly released research.

(Read More... | 4059 bytes more | 3 comments | Score: 3.75)

Technology: All out e-surveillance in England
Wednesday, January 18 @ 00:00:00 CST by (719 reads)
The Worldfrom the January 11, 2006 edition -

Britain plans total electronic surveillance of roads In trial runs, the high-tech system increased arrests
per officer tenfold.
By Mark Rice-Oxley

(Read More... | 7362 bytes more | comments? | Score: 5)

Technology: Government Tracking Cell Phones Without Court Order
Thursday, January 05 @ 14:00:00 CST by (738 reads)
Statismberean17 writes "
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
by David Bresnahan
January 4, 2006

Summary: Turn on your cell phone and you give government agencies instant information about your location, and even your speed of travel. It may not be long before you get a speeding ticket in the mail, or police at your door.
KANSAS CITY, MO.  -- Drivers with cell phones are being tracked in a new government program designed to monitor the location and speed of cell phones in vehicles moving along Missouri highways.

(Read More... | 7318 bytes more | 1 comment | Score: 5)

Technology: Pentagon Expanding Its Domestic Surveillance Activity
Sunday, December 04 @ 19:57:25 CST by (623 reads)
Statismberean17 writes "Fears of Post-9/11 Terrorism Spur Proposals for New Powers

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 27, 2005; A06

The Defense Department has expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities in the post-9/11 world.

The moves have taken place on several fronts. The White House is considering expanding the power of a little-known Pentagon agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, which was created three years ago. The proposal, made by a presidential commission, would transform CIFA from an office that coordinates Pentagon security efforts -- including protecting military facilities from attack -- to one that also has authority to investigate crimes within the United States such as treason, foreign or terrorist sabotage or even economic espionage.


(Read More... | 10172 bytes more | comments? | Score: 3.5)

Technology: VeriChip and Interview w/Tommy Thompson
Friday, November 11 @ 00:00:00 CST by (907 reads)
StatismKateschosen writes "The "All Americans" quote by Mr. Thompson tells us just who he has in mind for this implant.

 -- Kathleen

".....it's a giant step forward to getting what we call an electronic medical record for all Americans."  - Tommy Thompson, interviewed by Ed Crane for MarketWatch"

(Read More... | 10498 bytes more | 1 comment | Score: 4.66)

Technology: Biometrics for the Masses
Sunday, October 23 @ 07:00:00 CDT by (717 reads)
The Worldberean17 writes "
Elizabeth Millard, newsfactor.com
Mon Oct 17, 5:25 PM ET

Once the stuff of spy movies and sci-fi thrillers, biometrics has moved from the realm of 007 and into the world of everyday computers. Biometric features have been integrated into Hewlett-Packard PDAs, IBM ThinkPads, and other handhelds and laptops as a way to secure devices without asking users to remember numerous passwords for multilevel access control.

The use of biometrics, a method of verifying an individual's identity on the basis of physical features like fingerprints or iris patterns, has emerged in part because of a growing awareness that passwords are unreliable for security.

(Read More... | 8510 bytes more | comments? | Score: 3.75)

Technology: Furor Grows Over Internet Bugging
Saturday, October 22 @ 07:00:00 CDT by (1057 reads)
Breaking News!berean17 writes "
02:00 AM Oct. 20, 2005 PT

A recent government order mandating that voice over internet protocol services must include the same government-approved wiretapping capabilities as traditional phone companies threatens to cripple peer-to-peer telephone innovation, according to new warnings from civil liberties groups and an internet telephony pioneer.

The new rules from the FCC were published last month and take effect Nov. 14 , though companies have 18 months to comply. The order expands a controversial 1994 law known as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, which required phone companies to buy or retrofit switching equipment to meet stringent, government-approved wiretap standards that permit law enforcement to more easily wiretap digital phone calls, and to capture information such as voicemail PINs typed on a phone after a call is completed.

(Read More... | 7647 bytes more | 1 comment | Score: 4)

Technology: The Invasion of the Chinese
Sunday, August 28 @ 11:24:05 CDT by (873 reads)
Regular News
Sunday, Aug. 28, 2005
The Invasion Of The Chinese
Cyberspies (And the Man Who Tried to Stop Them)

It was another routine night for Shawn Carpenter. After a long day analyzing computer-network security for Sandia National Laboratories, where much of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is designed, Carpenter, 36, retreated to his ranch house in the hills overlooking Albuquerque, N.M., for a quick dinner and an early bedtime. He set his alarm for 2 a.m. Waking in the dark, he took a thermos of coffee and a pack of Nicorette gum to the cluster of computer terminals in his home office. As he had almost every night for the previous four months, he worked at his secret volunteer job until dawn, not as Shawn Carpenter, mid-level analyst, but as Spiderman—the apt nickname his military-intelligence handlers gave him—tirelessly pursuing a group of suspected Chinese cyberspies all over the world. Inside the machines, on a mission he believed the U.S. government supported, he clung unseen to the walls of their chat rooms and servers, secretly recording every move the snoopers made, passing the information to the Army and later to the FBI.

(Read More... | 19149 bytes more | comments? | Score: 4)

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