Author's Opinion

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of iTWire.

Have your say and comment below.

Wednesday, 16 August 2006 15:59

EFF demand for FTC investigation of AOL raises legal questions

By
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has very publicly gone for the jugular of  Time Warner's America Online (AOL). The non-profit watchdog organization has filed a request with the Federal Trade Commission to investigate AOL and posted a proclamation on its website urging AOL users to "take action", after AOL incorrectly released search data from 658,000 members into the public domain.

The EFF version of taking action consists of customers ringing AOL to voice their displeasure at having their privacy compromised and urging their friends to do the same. However, there is not one word mentioned on the EFF site about any possible legal redress for customers who may have had their personal privacy compromised.

AOL has admitted its error and the event clearly contravenes the company's own publicly stated privacy policy. In the vast majority of cases, it is probable that the search data cannot be used to expose the identity of users.

However, cases have already come to light where users' identities and personal details and their search queries have been revealed to the world. In such cases, users may have substantial claims against AOL for damages with accompanying demands for compensation.

If lawyers in the land of litigation are not jumping out of the woodwork trying to get class action suits happening already, they probably soon will be. If or when that happens, other companies that keep user logs will no doubt sit up and take notice.

It is unrealistic to expect the search companies not to keep logs of user searches. Finely targeted advertising based on user search logs is now a multi-billion dollar industry and it is what makes possible the increasingly rich array of free services and applications that are now available to web surfers.

That said, it is clear from the AOL fiasco that the legislative processes governing the storage of user data by corporations are not sufficient to ensure an adequate level of protection for the privacy of users. This is something that needs to change and this may require new and tighter laws.

Subscribe to ITWIRE UPDATE Newsletter here

GRAND OPENING OF THE ITWIRE SHOP

The much awaited iTWire Shop is now open to our readers.

Visit the iTWire Shop, a leading destination for stylish accessories, gear & gadgets, lifestyle products and everyday portable office essentials, drones, zoom lenses for smartphones, software and online training.

PLUS Big Brands include: Apple, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, Sennheiser and many more.

Products available for any country.

We hope you enjoy and find value in the much anticipated iTWire Shop.

ENTER THE SHOP NOW!

INTRODUCING ITWIRE TV

iTWire TV offers a unique value to the Tech Sector by providing a range of video interviews, news, views and reviews, and also provides the opportunity for vendors to promote your company and your marketing messages.

We work with you to develop the message and conduct the interview or product review in a safe and collaborative way. Unlike other Tech YouTube channels, we create a story around your message and post that on the homepage of ITWire, linking to your message.

In addition, your interview post message can be displayed in up to 7 different post displays on our the iTWire.com site to drive traffic and readers to your video content and downloads. This can be a significant Lead Generation opportunity for your business.

We also provide 3 videos in one recording/sitting if you require so that you have a series of videos to promote to your customers. Your sales team can add your emails to sales collateral and to the footer of their sales and marketing emails.

See the latest in Tech News, Views, Interviews, Reviews, Product Promos and Events. Plus funny videos from our readers and customers.

SEE WHAT'S ON ITWIRE TV NOW!

BACK TO HOME PAGE
Stan Beer

Stan Beer assists with Digital Advertising installation and monitoring of advert performance. With 35 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications. Any previous news story submissions should be director to editor@itwire.com and advertising enquires to andrew.matler@itwire.com

Share News tips for the iTWire Journalists? Your tip will be anonymous

WEBINARS ONLINE & ON-DEMAND

GUEST ARTICLES

VENDOR NEWS

Guest Opinion

Guest Interviews

Guest Reviews

Guest Research

Guest Research & Case Studies

Channel News

Comments