The repercussions of the “severe breach of trust by AOL”:http://www.scienceaddiction.com/2006/08/18/take-action-aol-privacy-and-the-database-of-intentions/ a few weeks ago, when they released the search records of more than 650,000 users, are beginning to be felt by those responsible.
“AP is reporting”:http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060821/ap_on_hi_te/aol_search_privacy that three employees connected with the release of the records are no longer working for the company. The individual researcher and his/her supervisor have been fired and the chief technology officer Maureen Govern has either been fired or has resigned.
Holding individuals responsible is a good starting point, but is far from enough. This move only sends a signal to other employees within the company, but there is still no clear message for other companies with similar lax data retention and release policies. AOL must suffer heavy financial consequences so that every company that is entrusted with customer information considers it in their best interest to take that trust seriously. As things stand right now, there is only a vague threat of losing customers but unfortunately this is neither tangible nor obvious.